Cannabis cultivation for medical use only was legalized in Frederick County as of April 2014 by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Law which also established the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC).
The possession and use of recreational cannabis by adults aged 21 and older have been legalized as House Bill (HB) 837 was enacted into law and made effective by July 1, 2023. This was due to a 67.2% yes vote on the November 2022 referendum on Maryland Question 4. Among voters from Frederick County, 66,991 voted for it while 36,210 voted against it.
The regulations for the cultivation of recreational cannabis for adult use have yet to be crafted by the Maryland General Assembly. A new Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council will be established to do studies and make recommendations on the matter to the General Assembly.
Part of the new law will allow adults aged 21 and older to grow a maximum of two cannabis plants at home, regardless of the number of qualifying adult residents. The home cultivation of cannabis must be hidden from the sight of others and must be done in a locked indoor enclosure that is only accessed by adults aged 21 and older. The cultivator must legally own the residence or must obtain the permission of the homeowner.
According to the MMCC, the new law will not affect how medical cannabis is being regulated. As of January 2023, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Law requires an MMCC license for medical cannabis growers and only 15 such licenses will be released. While there are already 15 pre-approved growers identified, the medical cannabis growers’ licensing process has not yet been completed as of January 8, 2023. The license is initially valid for four years and may be renewed every two years thereafter.
Licensees must abide by the zoning laws of the municipalities where they will be located. There is no specification on whether medical cannabis should be grown only indoors but the MMCC
requires security and inventory controls. There must be round-the-clock video surveillance at the entrance and within the facility, with recordings kept for 90 days. The licensee must log into the MMCC’s Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance (METRC) platform to monitor inventory from the seeds and cuttings to deliveries. Licensed medical cannabis cultivators are subject to MMCC inspections.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Law legalized only medical cannabis manufacturing in Frederick County since 2014. HB 837 legalized recreational adult-use cannabis in November 2022 but effective July 1, 2023. There are still no regulations from the Maryland General Assembly on the manufacturing of recreational adult-use cannabis.
With regard to medical cannabis manufacturing, the MMCC grants medical cannabis processor licenses. A licensed medical cannabis cultivator may also apply for a processor license and is permitted to have both operations in one registered location. They are, however, subject to the zoning regulations of the municipality they are located in.
There have been 15 pre-approved processors identified but as of January 8, 2023, the medical cannabis processors licensing process has not yet been completed. The initial license is valid for four years and may thereafter be renewed every two years.
The licensed medical cannabis processor is allowed to produce medical marijuana concentrates and medical marijuana-infused products such as oils, tinctures, waxes, salves, ointments, capsules, dermal patches, suppositories, cartridges for vaping, and any form of integration of cannabis flowers and trimmings into useful products. In April 2021, the MMCC added edible cannabis products to the list of allowed items. All items produced must be subjected to independent laboratory testing. The licensed medical cannabis processors are also subject to the same MMCC inventory and security requirements and inspections.
The retail sale of medical cannabis has been legal in Frederick County since 2014 by virtue of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Law. From July 1, 2023, HB 837 legalizes recreational adult-use cannabis. There are still no regulations on the retail sale of recreational adult-use cannabis from the Maryland General Assembly, though. Based on HB 837, an adult aged 21 and above is allowedto possess 1.5 ounces of dried cannabis or 12 grams of cannabis concentrate or cannabis-infused products with a total content of 750 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for personal use starting July 1, 2023.
Medical cannabis dispensaries have to be licensed by the MMCC. They are then permitted to sell all the types of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products that licensed medical cannabis processors are allowed to produce, as well as dried cannabis flowers and any devices necessary for the use or consumption of medical cannabis. They can only sell these to registered patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana cardholders who must present their physical card or ID registration number in addition to their current written certification and a valid government-issued ID.
Each patient is allowed to purchase 120 grams of dried cannabis flowers or its equivalent in usable cannabis every 30 days. For cannabis-infused products, the limit for every 30 days per patient is 36 grams of THC. The patient’s physician may, however, indicate more or less than the limit in the patient’s written certification which is also reflected in the registry. The licensed medical cannabis dispensary is responsible for ensuring that no patient exceeds these limits.
Every licensed medical cannabis dispensary is required to employ a Clinical Director who can advise registered patients and caregivers on-site or online about all aspects of medical cannabis use, including side effects and interactions with other medications.
Licensed medical cannabis growers and processors are allowed to also apply as licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. A licensed medical cannabis processor who owns a licensed dispensary may have both facilities under one roof provided they have separate addresses, separate entrances and exits, and no connecting doors between them. They are also subject to the zoning regulations of their municipality as well as MMCC inventory and security requirements and inspections.
Cannabis delivery is legal in Frederick County but currently, only licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are allowed to deliver purchased medical cannabis to registered patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana cardholders.
The effectivity of the legalization of recreational adult-use cannabis is July 1, 2023, and the Maryland General Assembly still has no regulations regarding its delivery.
To get a medical marijuana card, a resident of Frederick County must first initiate an online application to obtain an ID number from the MMCC. The applicant must bring this number when going for a checkup with an MMCC-registered physician.
The physician will determine whether the applicant qualifies for medical marijuana treatment for:
A severe chronic medical condition that does not respond to other treatments, or
A chronic or debilitating medical condition that causes the following:
Severe or persistent muscle spasms
Severe or chronic pain
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A written certification will be issued by the physician to a qualifying patient. The patient must provide the physician with the ID number issued by the MMCC for the physician to log the certification online. The patient must also keep the physical written certification.
Within 90 days, the patient must log into the dashboard again to complete the application process and be able to print a temporary ID card. This can be used until the patient receives the actual medical marijuana card through the mail. The non-refundable application fee is $25. Recipients of the Maryland Medicaid Program and Maryland Veterans Affairs Health Care Program are exempted from paying the fee.
If the patient is a minor and requires a caregiver, the caregiver must go through the caregiver registration for a medical marijuana card. The patient must then log in again to add the caregiver’s license number and establish their link.
For further inquiries, contact the following:
PATIENT AND CAREGIVER SUPPORT
Phone: 410-487-8100 or 1-844-421-2571
Medical cannabis is considered medicine and is, therefore, not covered by sales tax in Maryland. Hence, the state and Frederick County do not earn tax revenues from the sales of medical cannabis amounting to an average of $45 million monthly in 2021 and $43 million in the first three quarters of 2022.
There are still no guidelines on the specific taxation of recreational adult-use cannabis but HB 837 has indicated uses for any revenues from its taxes, licenses, and other fees.
HB 837 established the Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund comprised of the following:
A minimum of 30% of adult-use cannabis revenues
Licensing fees from cannabis establishments holding dual licenses
Any donations or gifts to the fund
The fund will be used for community-based initiatives that will benefit low-income communities that have been disproportionately impacted by previous adult-use cannabis prohibition.
HB 837 also established the Cannabis Public Health Fund which includes revenue from adult-use cannabis. This will be used for the following:
Substance abuse disorder treatment and counseling for individuals
Law enforcement training and equipment to identify cannabis-caused impairments
Acquiring technology to measure cannabis levels among drivers
Public education campaigns on cannabis use, including programs for schools
Research and data collection on the effects of cannabis legalization
Support for the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council
In the MMCC’s Implementation and Potential Tax Revenue study on adult-use cannabis, the projection for the second year from the start of sales was $1.2 billion in annual retail sales. At a wholesale and retail tax rate of 10%, $99 million in retail tax revenue and $40 million in business income tax were expected. At a wholesale and retail tax rate of 15%, $117 million in retail tax revenue and $36 million in business income tax were expected.
Sales of medical cannabis began in 2014. According to data from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 2013 there were 176 arrests for marijuana possession and 28 for marijuana manufacturing or sales. This increased in 2019 to 273 arrests for marijuana possession and 36 for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
There were 161 DUI arrests in 2013. This increased to 370 arrests in 2029.