If the legalization of recreational marijuana comes up in the next General Assembly, the two candidates who are elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in District 3A could be asked to take a stance.
Republican candidates Mike Bowersox and James Dvorak and Democratic sitting delegates Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young weighed in on the subject this week, with only one of the four stating a hard opposition.
While supporting the benefits of medical cannabis with the assurance of appropriate regulation, Bowersox said via email that he is not in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“While the majority of my fellow Marylanders may be in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, I do not support this action,” he said. “I view marijuana as a gateway drug that leads to experimentation, and eventually addiction, to the more serious drugs such as cocaine and heroin. We all know families that have personally been affected by drug addiction and their struggles through rehabilitation.”
Bowersox added that “drugs are a major contributing factor to criminal activity impacting the safety of our citizens,” and said he is concerned about law enforcement officials’ ability to “quantifiably detect a vehicle operator’s impairment from recreational marijuana use.”
He also commented on the subject from the employer of “hundreds of personnel going into client homes and businesses.”
“I am concerned how this use could impact those relationships and their ability to professionally perform their work,” he said.
Dvorak said via email that he has opened his mind to legalizing recreational marijuana after reviewing its benefits in other states.
“I have never been a proponent of legalized recreational marijuana, but after seeing studies from Colorado which showed a stark decrease in the number of opioid overdoses and deaths after recreational marijuana was legalized, it is certainly something that I am willing to investigate more closely,” he said. “I cannot say at this time that I am ‘for’ legalization, but I am also not ‘opposed’ to the idea and will look into the issue more closely, especially if elected.”
Dvorak added that if it is legalized, he would support using the tax revenue to fund Maryland schools. He also said that if elected, he plans to hold monthly meetings in the district to gauge constituents’ thoughts on specific bills and initiatives.
“If and when such a vote on legalization came up, I would bring it up to the citizens of Dist. 3A and get their thoughts before voting,” he said.
Krimm, who is running for re-election, expressed cautious support for the idea if lawmakers work out any kinks beforehand.
“Maryland has some issues with implementing the medical marijuana, which I totally support, and I think that we need to get that right before we start expanding to legalizing recreational marijuana,” she said via phone. “There are things that need to be answered in Maryland and addressed in law. For example, people who are under the influence and driving, how do we handle that in our law? We need to talk about impact to health for recreational marijuana, we need to have that full discussion in Annapolis. And then I think that if a bill comes forward to put it on the ballot I would support that.”
Lewis Young, who is also running for re-election, said in an email that she would support legalization of recreational marijuana based on research she has performed.
“Prohibition has failed to reduce the use of marijuana, while wasting billions of dollars and resulting in hundreds of thousands of racially oriented arrests each year,” she said. “Legalization would allow individuals over 21 to use a relatively safe substance without the threat of arrest, and allow all levels of government to raise new revenues from cannabis sales and redirect resources to more pressing needs.”
Lewis Young also provided a list of facts about the states and jurisdictions that have legalized recreational marijuana and the benefits they have seen. She also referenced a five-year study in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association that suggested cannabis might prevent people from graduating to “hard” drugs.
“No studies have produced evidence about any significant harmful effects from recreational marijuana. Nor is there any scientific evidence that it is a gateway drug,” she said. “Clearly, it is less harmful than alcohol, cigarettes, and many prescription painkillers.”
Voters will elect two candidates in the upcoming general election to represent District 3A, which covers the city of Frederick and some surrounding areas. Delegates serve four-year terms and make $50,330 a year. Early voting for the general election begins Oct. 25, and Election Day is Nov. 6.