In early February, a coalition of bipartisan legislators in Maryland introduced a bill in the State House calling for the refusal of the state and its officials from aiding the federal government in enforcing cannabis prohibition. The Cannabis Freedom Act (HB1016) would drastically change the way the state deals with cannabis regulation by making it extremely difficult for the federal government to enforce prohibition laws within state borders.
The Cannabis Freedom Act would prevent any agency, as well as state employee, from “taking certain actions in furtherance of a federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation prohibiting cannabis within the State.”
Without help from the states, the federal government would have a difficult, if not impossible, time finding and prosecuting cannabis users and producers.
The premise of the Maryland bill is that the Constitution establishes the role of Congress to regulate some aspects of trade within the state, but that they are not authorized to regulate cannabis. Maryland believes the federal government has the right to deal in the sale of land, to regulate finance and financial instruments, and to navigate goods across state lines, but that it does not have the authority to regulate agriculture or manufacturing of goods.
This is not the first time Maryland has faced off a view against prohibition that does not align with the federal government. After the 18th Amendment passed, establishing alcohol prohibition, Maryland was the only state that refused to pass any laws that enforced the prohibition in the state. By doing so, Maryland was only considered a “dry state” on paper and was of the opinion that the federal law could not dictate a state’s ability to determine if a substance should be deemed legal or not.
If passed the Cannabis Freedom Act would take effect on October 1, 2014.