Maryland Marijuana Laws 2024

  1. Maryland Cannabis
  2. Maryland Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Maryland laws permit the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes
  • Only licensed dispensaries are permitted to sell marijuana products legally in the state
  • Only adults aged 21 years or older in the state may legally possess and consume recreational cannabis. They are allowed to possess up to 12 grams of marijuana concentrates and no more than 1.5 ounces of cannabis flowers
  • Under Maryland medical cannabis law, only registered patients with certain medical conditions who are at least 18 years old may legally possess and use medical marijuana. A caregiver is required for any cannabis patient under 18
  • Adults aged 21 years or older may cultivate no more than two mature marijuana plants at home for personal use. Growing more than two mature plants attracts harsh penalties
  • The Maryland Marijuana Commission now regulates the state's recreational and medical cannabis programs

Is Marijuana Legal in Maryland?

Marijuana is legal in Maryland for medical and recreational purposes. The state legalized recreational marijuana on May 3, 2023 following voters approving a referendum to legalize adult-use marijuana in November 2022. Both the Maryland House and Senate passed the Cannabis Reform Act in the spring of 2023 leading to the governor signing it into law in May of the same year. Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in Maryland on July 1, 2023.

Medical Marijuana was signed into legislation by Governor O’Malley in May 2013. The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission was established as an independent regulatory agency to develop policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations to execute programs to make medical marijuana available to qualifying patients safely and effectively. The Commission registers patients with debilitating conditions with a written certification by medical providers. Medical providers are state-licensed physicians, dentists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and podiatrists on Maryland’s medical marijuana program registry.

Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) regulates the medical marijuana program by ensuring the following:

  • Develop policies, procedures, plans, and regulations to execute programs to make medical marijuana available to qualifying patients safely and effectively
  • Create and sustain a website (http://mmcc.maryland.gov) that provides information on how persons can obtain medical marijuana in Maryland and provides contact details for licensed local dispensaries
  • Enlist certified doctors who can administer medical marijuana to qualifying patients for medical use
  • Create ID cards for qualifying patients and qualified caregivers. A certified doctor signs a written certification to the Commission for patients with qualifying conditions. After approving the written certification, the Commission assigns identification cards to qualifying patients as named in the written certificates and caregivers
  • License growers with permission that meets all regulations established by the Commission to run in the state. Licensed growers may provide marijuana to processors, dispensaries, and independent testing laboratories registered with the Commission

The first step leading to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Maryland occurred when lawmakers passed House Bill 1 in the 2022 legislative session, which primarily includes the question of legalization of adult-use marijuana. It allowed Maryland voters to decide on the legality of recreational marijuana in the November 2022 ballot. The referendum, popularly referred to as Question 4, asked voters if they favor the legalization of marijuana for persons aged 21 years or older. After the ballot initiative passed, Maryland became the 20th state in the United States to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

House Bill 837 was also introduced, which requires specific regulations and procedures for adult-use marijuana by Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Medical Cannabis Commission. It stipulated a 7-month interval for the Commission to form regulations and policies and make adequate preparations for the use of recreational cannabis. This led to the legal sales of adult-use cannabis commencing in Maryland in July 2023.

Can I Use Cannabis in Maryland?

Yes. Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Maryland. The state authorized the newly created Maryland Marijuana Commission to oversee and regulate both its medical and recreational marijuana programs. The legalization of adult-use marijuana in the state means that residents aged 21 or older can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, and cannabis products with total THC content of 750 milligrams or less. Residents under the age of 21 caught with up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis will be fined, mandated to attend drug education classes, and referred for assessment for the treatment of substance abuse disorder.

The History of Marijuana in Maryland is a long and arduous one. In 2014, Medical Marijuana was legalized by House Bill 881. HB 881 established the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission with the responsibility of forming regulations for the consumption, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana and its products to qualifying patients and licensed caregivers. House Bill 881 allowed qualifying patients with certain medical conditions access to medical marijuana. The following conditions are qualified for medical marijuana by the Natalie LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission:

  • Persistent or debilitating disease or medical condition that results in a patient being admitted into hospice or receiving palliative care
  • Persistent or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces
    • Cachexia,
    • Anorexia or wasting syndrome
    • Severe or chronic pain
    • Severe nausea
    • Glaucoma
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Seizures
    • Severe or persistent muscle spasms
  • Any other severe condition in which other medical treatments have been ineffective

The Natalie LaPrade Maryland Medical Commission became operational in 2017. They expanded the list of licensed marijuana providers to nurse practitioners, dentists, certified nurse midwives, and podiatrists in 2019. These changes might have resulted from certified doctors’ refusal to enlist in the Maryland Marijuana Cannabis Commission registry.

Furthermore, in 2013, lawmakers in Maryland voted to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of marijuana, and it became a civil offense with a fine of $100. The law was passed into legislation in 2014. In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly overrode a refusal by Governor Hogan to decriminalize possession of marijuana paraphernalia (such as syringes, bongs, rolling papers, and pipes) and public consumption of marijuana. This made both civil offenses punishable by a $500 fine each.

Marijuana dispensaries became operational in 2017, and patients enlisted with the Commission were allowed to obtain medical marijuana. Two years later, Maryland's medical marijuana program skyrocketed with 18 licensed cultivators, 85 licensed dispensaries, and more than 50,000 registered qualifying patients.

In 2019, the Marijuana Legalization Workgroup, a special body of the General Assembly in Maryland, analyzed strategies to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state. In the 2021 General Assembly Session, House Bill 32 was proposed to legalize adult-use marijuana and clear prior convictions of cannabis possession. The Bill did not make it out of the session. However, Maryland lawmakers passed House Bill 1 in the 2022 legislative session, a referendum for Maryland voters to decide on the adult use of marijuana in the November 2022 ballot. Voters chose to make recreational marijuana legal in the state at the ballot. This victory at the polls led the Maryland legislature to pass bills, HB 556 and SB 516, that codified adult-use marijuana regulations in the state and became the Cannabis Reform Act.

However, marijuana is still a controlled substance under the US Controlled Substances Act and is listed as a Schedule I Drug by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Maryland Marijuana Laws in 2024

The Maryland General Assembly deliberated on three marijuana-related bills in the 2022 legislative session. The three bills were passed in the Maryland General Assembly and are at different stages of implementation. But the precursor bill was House Bill 32, which was the first recreational marijuana bill to be presented in the Maryland General Assembly and was an indicator of the readiness of Maryland residents for adult-use marijuana. Delegate Jazz Lewis introduced the bill. It proposed legalizing adult-use marijuana and expunging prior marijuana-related convictions. The bill did not pass in the General Assembly. Marijuana-related bills proposed in 2022 include the following:

House Bill 1

Delegate Luke Clippinger introduced this Bill and proposed an amendment to the constitution to permit the use of marijuana by adults aged 21 years and above in Maryland. The amendment will be subject to the state's voters for adoption or rejection in the November 2022 elections. Maryland Lawmakers passed the Bill to allow voters to decide on the legalization of recreational marijuana. Being a constitutional amendment, the ballot initiative did not need the governor’s assent.

House Bill 837

Delegate Luke Clippinger also sponsored this Bill and proposed regulations for adult-use marijuana if Question 4 was approved by voters in the November 2022 elections. The proposed rules include increasing the decriminalization limit from 10 grams (0.35 ounces) to 2.5 ounces. Moreover, adults could possess and buy up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis. Possession of 1.5 ounces to 2.5 ounces of marijuana would become a civil offense punishable only by a fine. Also, adults aged 21 years and older could grow up to two marijuana plants at home. The state would automatically erase the records of persons previously convicted of marijuana crimes. Individuals previously charged for dispensing or possessing small quantities of marijuana can request expungement after three years of serving their sentence. There would be equity and small-business licenses with the creation of the Cannabis Assistance Fund. The Maryland General Assembly passed the Bill, but the Maryland Governor, Gov. Larry Hogan, neither assented to nor vetoed the Bill, allowing the Bill to become law.

Senate Bill 833

Senator Brian Feldman sponsored this Bill, and it also proposed regulations for recreational marijuana in Maryland. It had identical provisions to HB 837 and was merged with it.

House Bill 556 and Senate Bill 516

These bills got their first readings on February 3, 2023 and after multiple amendments and committee hearings, they passed in the state’s legislature and were signed into law by the Maryland Governor on May 3, 2023. Among other things, the bills created the Maryland Cannabis Commission from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission; expanded the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to the Alcohol, Tobacco; and Cannabis Commission; established the regulations and business licenses needed by the new adult-use marijuana industry in the state; required the conversion of medical cannabis licenses to medical and adult-use cannabis licenses on July 1, 2023; and established a 9% sales and use tax on cannabis sales in Maryland.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Maryland Happen?

Medical and recreational marijuana are sold at licensed dispensaries all over Maryland. A licensed cannabis dispensary is an entity authorized by the Maryland Cannabis Commission (MMCC) to obtain, possess, process, transfer, transport, sell, distribute, dispense, and administer cannabis, cannabis products, related supplies, or educational materials for use by a registered patient or licensed caregiver. Medical marijuana patients and caregivers can buy medical marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries using their medical marijuana cards. Adult-use cannabis consumers need to present valid IDs confirming that they are indeed 21 years or older when buying cannabis at Maryland dispensaries.

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in Maryland

In Maryland, marijuana is legal for medical and recreational purposes. However, the state places limits on the amount of marijuana individuals can grow, possess, and buy. The following are Maryland marijuana-related penalties;

Possession of Marijuana

  • Possession of 1.5 - 2.5 ounces is a civil offense that carries a maximum fine of $250
  • Possession of 50 pounds or more is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Subsequent offenders have increased fines
  • Public consumption of cannabis is a civil offense. First-time offenders will pay a fine of $50 while a subsequent offense attracts a fine of $150

Possession with intent to distribute

  • Possession with intent to distribute less than 50 pounds is a felony punishable by up to 5 years of incarceration and a maximum fine of $15,000
  • Possession with intent to distribute 50 pounds or more is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000
  • Possession with intent to distribute more than 50 pounds of marijuana by a drug kingpin is a felony punishable by up to 50 years incarceration with a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, and a fine of $1,000,000
  • Possession with intent to distribute in a school bus or within 1000 feet of an elementary or secondary school is a felony punishable by 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000
  • Possession with intent to distribute involving a minor is a felony punishable by 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000
  • A subsequent violation is a felony punishable by up to 40 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a fine of up to $50,000
  • Trafficking between 5 kg and 45 kg of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 10 years incarceration and a fine of $10,000
  • Trafficking more than 45 kg of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 25 years incarceration and a fine of $50,000
  • Trafficking marijuana while being in possession of a firearm is a felony punishable by up to 20 years incarceration with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years

Cultivation

With Maryland legalizing adult-use marijuana, adults are now allowed to cultivate up to two mature plants in their private residences. Home cultivation of marijuana is only allowed for adults aged 21 or older. Cultivating more than two mature plants at home is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $5,000 and 3 years of incarceration.

Marijuana paraphernalia

Under Maryland law, paraphernalia includes all accompanying equipment and materials used in the use, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana. Marijuana paraphernalia includes pipes, bongs, syringes, and roach clips. Also included are the agricultural materials used in growing marijuana. After July 1, 2023 when the state’s recreational marijuana program commenced, possession of marijuana paraphernalia is no longer an offense. However, selling a marijuana paraphernalia to a minor who is at least 3 years younger is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 8 years of incarceration and a fine of $15,000.

What is Maryland's Cannabis History?

The history of marijuana legislation in Maryland is a long and laborious one. In 2010, Maryland had the fifth highest rate of arrest for possession of marijuana in the United States, with up to 49.9% of all drug possession arrests in Maryland.

In 2014, House Bill 881 was passed to legalize medical marijuana and establish the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission with the responsibility of forming regulations for legal consumption, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana products to qualifying patients 18 years and older or their caregivers. The Commission became operational in 2017, and the list of licensed marijuana providers was expanded to include nurse practitioners, dentists, certified nurse midwives, and podiatrists.

Furthermore, in 2013, lawmakers in Maryland voted to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of marijuana. It became a civil offense retaining a fine of $100 for violators. The law was passed into legislation in 2014. Similarly, the Maryland General Assembly overrode a refusal by Governor Hogan to decriminalize possession of cannabis paraphernalia and public consumption of marijuana. This made both civil offenses punishable by a $500 fine.

Marijuana dispensaries opened in the state in 2017, and patients registered with the Commission were allowed to purchase medical marijuana. Maryland's medical marijuana program has experienced a tremendous increase, with over 150 licensed cultivators, processors, testing laboratories, and dispensaries serving over 139,000 registered patients, according to the MMCC Annual Report for 2021.

Maryland lawmakers passed House Bill 1 in the 2022 legislative session, a ballot initiative on the legalization of adult-use marijuana. It allowed Maryland residents to vote on the legality of adult-use marijuana in the November 2022 ballot. The referendum, called Question 4, asked voters if they favor the legalization of Marijuana for persons who are at least 21 years or older by July 1, 2023. In a poll conducted by Goucher College in March 2022, the result showed that 62% of Maryland residents support the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. In another poll conducted by the Washington Post in conjunction with the University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement in September 2022, they found that 73% of Maryland residents support the legalization of marijuana in the state.

Maryland voters chose to make recreational marijuana legal in the November 2022 ballot. This prompted the state’s legislature to take up bills establishing the regulations and requirements of the state adult-use cannabis industry. After the lawmakers passed the Maryland Cannabis Reform Act, the state governor signed it into law on May 3, 2023. Retail sale of recreational marijuana began in Maryland on July 1, 2023.

What are the Restrictions on Cannabis in Maryland?

Both medical and recreational marjuana are legal in Maryland and regulated by the state’s Maryland Cannabis Commission. This agency registers certified patients with debilitating conditions to buy, possess, and use medical marijuana. It also issues licenses to growers, processors, transporters, dispensaries, and testing laboratories interested in partaking in Maryland’s marijuana market. For individuals, the state still places some restrictions on the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis. Some of these restrictions are:

  • Possession of than 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, and products containing more than 75 mg of THC for personal use
  • Possession with intent to distribute marijuana
  • Unlicensed cultivation of more than two mature marijuana plants at home
  • Marijuana trafficking
  • Driving while intoxicated with marijuana
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