Maryland governor signs abortion, gender-affirming care, and cannabis bills into law!

Annapolis, Maryland - Maryland Governor Wes Moore on Wednesday signed a host of bills into law protecting access to abortions and gender-affirming care for women and LGBTQ+ Americans.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (r.) took a firm stand for abortion access and LGBTQ+ rights during a bill signing ceremony on Wednesday.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore (r.) took a firm stand for abortion access and LGBTQ+ rights during a bill signing ceremony on Wednesday.  © Collage: ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & Jim WATSON / AFP

Moore signed a raft of measures designed to protect Maryland against the rightwing attacks on basic civil liberties happening in Republican-controlled states around the country.

"In our state, no one should ever have to justify their humanity," Moore said at the bill signing ceremony. "In our state, no one should have to justify their own humanness."

The legislation he put his signature to included the Trans Health Equity Act (SB 460), which expands the number of procedures relating to gender-affirming care that are covered by the state’s Medicaid program.

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He also signed bills to affirm that abortion care is a "fundamental right" (SB 798), ensure public colleges and universities develop a "reproductive health services plan" and have enough access to over-the-counter contraceptives (SB 341), prohibit judges from requiring individuals to testify in other states' cases related to protected health care (SB 859), and prevent the disclosure of medical records to protect patient privacy (SB 786).

In 2024, Maryland voters will get the chance to solidify those protections even more with a ballot amendment to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.

"I want to say to all the women who are out there who are wondering what will happen, who are worried about their future – please hear me loud and clear: Maryland will always be a safe haven for abortion access and abortion rights," Moore affirmed.

Governor Moore legalizes recreational marijuana market

Wes Moore shakes hands with Marylanders during the bill signing ceremony.
Wes Moore shakes hands with Marylanders during the bill signing ceremony.  © Screenshot/Twitter/GovWesMoore

In addition to measures around abortion and gender-affirming care, Moore signed the Cannabis Reform Act (SB 516), which would establish licensing and tax rates to open a recreational marijuana market by July 1. The move comes after voters approved a constitutional amendment in November to allow people ages 21 and over to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis.

"The criminalization of marijuana harmed low-income communities and communities of color in a profound way," the governor said. "We want to make sure that the legalization of marijuana lifts those communities now in a profound way."

Moore also signed legislation designed to expand access to affordable health insurance. One of the bills, estimated to impact around 65,000 uninsured residents, will automatically enroll eligible recipients of SNAP benefits into Medicaid.

Mental health was also on the agenda, with the priority on getting people better care earlier. One measure (SB 3) allocates funds in 2025 to cover a 988 suicide and crisis prevention hotline.

Cover photo: Collage: ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & Jim WATSON / AFP

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