Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Maryland

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Maryland

Although recreational marijuana is now legal in Maryland, medical marijuana cardholders still enjoy certain benefits over recreational weed consumers. These benefits include:

Legal Protection

Having medical marijuana in Maryland provides legal protection for medical cannabis patients as long as they do not possess or purchase more than the approved limits of cannabis. Registered patients can present their medical cannabis cards, government-issued IDs, or provider’s written certifications when stopped by law enforcement agencies to avoid arrest or prosecution for possessing marijuana. Without a Maryland medical marijuana card, carrying more than 1.5 ounces of cannabis in the state is a civil offense punishable by a $250 fine.

Lower Prices

Medical marijuana cardholders in Maryland are exempted from the 9% sales and use tax imposed on cannabis sales for recreational consumers. As a result, the average cost of 1 ounce of cannabis flower is cheaper when bought by medical marijuana cardholders than when purchased for recreational purposes.

Higher Purchase and/or Possession Limits

Maryland allows patients to purchase up to 120 grams (4 ounces) of cannabis products within a 30-day period. Registered certifying providers may also recommend higher purchase limits for their patients. On the other hand, adult-use cannabis consumers may only purchase or possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower per time.

Higher Cultivation Limits

The home-growing of cannabis is legal in Maryland, provided it is done out of public view. While medical marijuana cardholders can grow up to four cannabis plants at a time, recreational consumers can only grow two cannabis plants.

Access for Minors

Minors (persons below 18) can have access to medical marijuana if recommended by certifying providers in Maryland. On the other hand, recreational marijuana is only available to adults aged 21 years or older.

Reciprocity

Maryland patients can use their medical marijuana cards to purchase medical-grade cannabis products in other states that offer cannabis reciprocity. Arkansas and Oklahoma allow Maryland’s MMJ cardholders to purchase cannabis, but they must obtain temporary or visiting licenses. Washington DC and Maine permit cardholders from specific states, including Maryland, to visit their medical marijuana dispensaries. Medical marijuana patients from Maryland with qualifying conditions that align with Arizona, New Hampshire, and Utah cannabis laws can also use their medical marijuana cards in these states.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Maryland

Getting a medical marijuana card in Maryland has the following downsides:

Firearm Prohibition

According to the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA), medical marijuana cardholders cannot own guns per the Federal Gun Control Act. The Maryland State Police typically ask persons seeking to buy firearms if they have medical marijuana cards. Lying to the state police violates federal law, and the penalties may include $250,000 and/or 10 years in federal prison.

Driving Restrictions

Maryland law enforcement officers can arrest medical marijuana cardholders for driving under the influence of cannabis. They often use standard field sobriety tests to confirm if motorists are impaired. Maryland DUI laws do not specify a blood THC limit for drivers, but the MCA advises cannabis patients to wait at least six hours after consuming cannabis before driving. Possible penalties for violating DUI laws in Maryland include the following:

  • One year jail term, six months driver’s license revocation, and a $1,000 fine for the first violation
  • Two years jail term, one year driver’s license revocation, and a $2,000 fine for the second offense within five years
  • Three years jail term, 18 months driver’s license revocation, and $3,000 fine for the third offense within five years

Federal laws govern the issuance of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, medical cannabis patients cannot obtain CDLs in Maryland.

Annual Renewal

Medical marijuana cards for patients in Maryland are valid for six years, while caregivers’ cards are valid for two years. However, patients are required to visit MCA-approved physicians annually to renew medical certifications. This is usually inconvenient for medical marijuana cardholders, but they must do so. Otherwise, they risk losing the benefits associated with their medical cards. In addition, they must bear certain costs, including card renewal fees and consultation fees (paid to their medical providers). The cost of renewing a Maryland medical marijuana card is $25, while medical visits to healthcare providers to obtain new certifications can cost anywhere from $60 to $250.

Employment Restrictions

According to the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA), employers are not required to amend their drug testing policies solely to accommodate medical marijuana patients. Employers may not offer certain job roles to medical marijuana cardholders in Maryland. Generally, patients’ medical information will not show up on background checks as stipulated in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In Maryland, employees who fail drug tests may be terminated according to the employer’s rule, even if such employees are registered medical marijuana patients.

Federal Prohibitions

Federal agencies within the borders of Maryland will not employ cannabis patients because marijuana is illegal at the federal level. While Maryland does not prohibit federal employees from obtaining medical marijuana cards, failing drug tests or possessing marijuana in federal workplaces can lead to employment discharge. Possessing, consuming, or growing cannabis in federally subsidized homes in the state may also lead to eviction because federal law prohibits cannabis possession or consumption on federal lands.

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