John Hudak’s testimony before the Maryland General Assembly House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup

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Editor's note:

On June 14, 2022, Dr. John Hudak, Senior Fellow & Deputy Director of Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings, testified before the Maryland General Assembly House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup. Dr. Hudak addresses three topics related to cannabis legalization: taxation, regulation, and licensing. Watch the full testimony here.

First, I would like to thank the Speaker for organizing this workgroup and the chair for organizing today’s session. I’d also like to thank the workgroup for the opportunity to testify today and to provide answers to your questions. My name is John Hudak, and I am a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies and the Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. I would like to begin by noting that the views expressed here are my own, based on my own research, and do not reflect any institutional views of Brookings.

At the request of the staff and leadership of the workgroup, I am going to speak about three specific topics related to cannabis legalization: taxation, regulation, and licensing. I will note these are inherently interconnected issues, but I will speak about them today as separate verticals.

However, throughout my testimony, there will be a few common themes that the workgroup should to take to heart. First, cannabis legalization and regulation is an exceptional complex series of interrelated policy choices and should never been seen as a light switch that is simply flipped on. I know the members of this workgroup—several of whom I have previously testified before—know this, but it is important for your fellow members and constituents to understand this to be the case. Second, and in that theme, cannabis regulation is a process that takes time, careful consideration, significant cooperation and coordination, and perhaps most importantly patience. Third, for each policy choice that the legislature and regulatory agencies settle on, there are tradeoffs between competing views and available outcomes. Anyone who comes before this workgroup and tells you that all of your goals are achievable and straightforward is selling snake oil. Often in the regulation of cannabis, there are competing outcomes, and hard choices must be made by the relevant policy makers.

Continue reading the full testimony here. Watch the full video of Dr. Hudak’s testimony (starting around the 08:25 mark) and the rest of the hearing.