FILE: Wes Moore bill signing

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed more than 100 pieces of legislation during a ceremony in Annapolis on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.

(The Center Square) – First-year Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed a slew of bills, including several protecting abortion rights, transgender rights and cannabis reforms.

Moore signed more than 100 pieces of legislation during a ceremony in Annapolis on Wednesday. The event highlighted measures expanding access to health care – specifically abortion rights, access to gender-affirming care and providing timelier mental health services. The governor also used the occasion to spotlight cannabis reform.

The governor touted the pieces of legislation as a victory in protecting individual liberties for Marylanders.

“Today, we further strengthened our leave no one behind vision by protecting individual freedoms, solidifying reproductive rights, expanding access to health care, and creating an adult-use cannabis market that directly benefits those that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs,” Moore said during the ceremony on Wednesday

Maryland lawmakers have begun paving the way for a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year to enshrine abortion rights into the Maryland Constitution by passing several bills protecting and expanding access.

Included Wednesday was legislation shielding Marylanders from facing civil or criminal prosecution in states with restrictions on abortion; ensuring public institutions of higher education have plans in place to provide students with easier access to birth control; emergency contraception and abortion bills; and the securing medical data on reproductive health from being shared across state lines.

During the ceremony, Moore signed legislation requiring the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide gender-affirming care for transgender individuals in a "nondiscriminatory manner." The legislation requires “gender-affirming treatment be assessed according to nondiscriminatory criteria that are consistent with current clinical standards.”

Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller accused some states of denying reproductive and transgender rights away from their citizens. Miller reiterated Moore’s sentiment on the historic signing.

“The legislation signed today by Governor Moore will protect the health, well-being, and rights of all Marylanders,” said Miller. “While other states are dead set on ripping away reproductive rights and attempting to erase the existence of trans and nonbinary individuals, we’re doing the opposite: We’re making Maryland a state that is welcoming, inclusive, and that safeguards the rights of all people.” 

Moore also took the opportunity to spotlight cannabis reform, which establishes the Maryland Cannabis Administration as an independent unit of the state. The legislation “establishes a regulatory and licensing system for adult-use cannabis; imposing a 9% tax on the sale and use tax of adult-use cannabis; requiring the Administration, on or before July 1, 2023, to convert medical cannabis licenses to licenses to operate a medical and adult-use cannabis business,” according to the bill summary.

In addition to the other bills, Moore signed legislation simplifying access for Marylanders to receive mental health services sooner via community health services and primary care. 

Moore applauded the measures to ensure the rights of Marylanders are protected looking ahead.

“Here in Maryland we are committed to righting the wrongs of the past and protecting the rights of all Marylanders in the future," he said. "As long as I am governor, I will fight with everything I’ve got to ensure we’re creating a safe, equitable, and prosperous home for every Marylander.”

Regional Editor

Sarah Roderick-Fitch is The Center Square’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Editor. She has previously worked as an editor, and has been a contributing writer for several publications. In addition to writing and editing, Sarah spent nearly a decade working for non-profit, public policy organizations in the Washington, DC area.