Is marijuana legal in Maryland?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.
Medical cannabis is legal in the state of Maryland, but recreational cannabis is not.
Although recreational use is illegal, possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis without the intent to distribute has been decriminalized. It is viewed as a civil offense subject to a maximum fine of $100.
Additional laws include:
- Possession of between 10 grams and up to 50 pounds of cannabis is deemed a misdemeanor, the penalty of which is up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Possession of 50 pounds or more is a felony, carrying a punishment of at least five years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Possession with the intent to distribute is a felony and is subject to a sliding scale of penalties dependent upon the amount of cannabis distributed.
In March 2020, Maryland passed House Bill 550, which will increase the decriminalization possession amount to 1 ounce (from less than 10 grams). HB550 is currently pending before the Maryland Senate with no date identified for deliberation.
At present, there are no ballot initiatives or pending legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Maryland. However, in early 2019, a legislative work group was formed to explore ways to implement the legalization of cannabis effectively. The workgroup recommended against legalization in 2020, but they continue to study and debate issues to pave the way for potential legalization at a future date.
Maryland medical marijuana laws
Maryland’s medical marijuana program became fully operational in 2017 with the opening of its first dispensaries.
By law, qualified medical patients may possess a 30-day supply of up to 120 grams for personal medical use (primarily dried flower), or up to 36 grams of THC, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). Home cultivation is not permitted.
The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) oversees all licensing, registration, inspection, and testing measures related to Maryland’s medical cannabis program. The MMCC is also responsible for guiding patients, caregivers, providers, growers, dispensers, processors, testing laboratories, and caregivers.
Medical marijuana laws background
Protection for patients using medical cannabis in Maryland was first established in 2003 with HB 702, or the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act. The Act created an affirmative defense for cannabis use among patients with less than one ounce in their possession, carrying a maximum fine of $100.
In 2011, Maryland passed SB 308, which recognized cannabis use for specific medical conditions but still subjected users to a $100 fine. In 2013, HB 180 expanded this protection to include caregivers of medical marijuana patients. HB 1101, which also passed in 2013, enabled academic medical centers to carry out medical cannabis research. The Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission was consequently created to develop regulations regarding cannabis use, research, and cultivation in Maryland.
The Maryland legislature approved HB881 in 2014. The bill legalized a comprehensive medical cannabis program that offered legal protection for patients, caregivers, and physicians and set up a distribution system. Registered medical cannabis patients and their designated caregivers became permitted to obtain a 30-day supply of cannabis, although personal cultivation remained prohibited.
The bill was revised by HB 490 (2015). Its revisions included a requirement that patients enroll in an academic research program in order to qualify, and it shielded individuals convicted of non-violent misdemeanors from specific criminal records requests. These regulations were enforced on September 14th, 2015.
In 2016, HB 104 was passed, empowering dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to issue written certifications on behalf of qualifying patients.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Maryland
A Maryland resident is eligible to register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) if a certified provider has recommended medical cannabis to treat their condition.
Maryland qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
To be registered as a medical marijuana patient in Maryland, patients must have an ailment that meets the state’s list of qualifying criteria.
A patient may qualify if they are living with a chronic or debilitating disease or condition that causes:
- Wasting syndrome
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Acute or persistent muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- A chronic or severe medical condition for which other treatments have been ineffective
How to get an MMJ card in Maryland
Here are the steps for obtaining a medical marijuana card in Maryland.
1. In-person visit with a certified provider.
During this visit, the provider will review the patient’s relevant medical records, complete an in-person assessment, create medically standardized records, and commit to monitor the patient’s journey with medical cannabis.
If the patient meets the provider’s criteria for treatment with medical cannabis, the provider will issue a certification.
2. The patient then registers online.
An application can be lodged by visiting the MMCC Registry website and clicking Create Account under the “Patients” tab. After the online application form has been completed and submitted, the applicant must click on the verification link sent to their email address. The application is not complete and will not be reviewed by the Commission unless verification is performed.
Online registration requires:
- A valid, accessible email account
- The last four digits of your Social Security Number
- An electronic copy of a valid government-issued photo ID
- Proof of Maryland residency
- An electronic copy of a clear, recent photograph
These documents must be dated within the past 90 days. Accepted ID forms include a driver’s license, a state-issued photo ID card, military ID, or a US passport. If the ID does not identify your current address, the patient must also provide two approved documents as proof of residence.
3. The MMCC reviews completed applications.
The applicant will receive a follow-up email notifying whether or not the application has been approved. The MMCC has a high volume of applications, and they recommend calling or emailing only if more than 45 days have passed since the submission of the initial application.
4. Obtain certification.
Once approved, the patient can visit a provider registered with MMCC to obtain a valid certification. A patient may only order an ID card after their patient application has been approved, and they have received certification from a registered provider.
Following approval, patients can also log into the Patient Registry to designate a caregiver or caregivers. A registered patient is permitted to identify a maximum of two individuals, aged 21 years or older, to serve as caregivers. The caregiver(s) must be registered before being designated.
Does Maryland accept out of state medical cards?
Maryland doesn’t accept out of state medical cards at this time, as outlined on the MMCC Patient FAQ.
When does my Maryland medical marijuana card expire?
Maryland medical marijuana cards issued after January 1st, 2019 expire three years from their date of issue. Cards issued before January 1st, 2019 will expire on the date listed on the card. After the card has been renewed, a new three-year period will go into effect.
Got your medical card? Find a dispensary in Maryland
With your medical card in hand, you can now obtain medical cannabis from this list of licensed dispensaries in Maryland.
Maryland marijuana growing laws
Home cultivation is not permitted for Maryland medical marijuana patients at this time. Home cultivation is punished as simple possession or possession with intent to deliver if the quantity produced is in excess of strict personal use.
Only licensed growers certified by the MMCC are allowed to cultivate cannabis within the state. These growers are subject to stringent background requirements and regulations.
Maryland cannabis public consumption laws
In Maryland, there are specific laws in place regarding the consumption of cannabis in public settings. Marijuana usage in public carries a civil fine of up to $500. Individuals found smoking cannabis in public places or in a motor vehicle, aircraft or a boat may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
Individuals found undertaking tasks under the influence of cannabis would constitute negligence or professional malpractice, and are also subject to such penalties.
Maryland cannabis DUI laws
Even in medical-use and adult-use states, it is illegal to drive while under the influence. In Maryland, a person may be found guilty of DUI if a law enforcement official judges them to be impaired by cannabis.
Cannabis-related DUI cases are similar to those involving drugs deemed more dangerous by the state. Although possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized in Maryland, driving while impaired by marijuana would still be considered a violation, as espoused in the transportation code.
- For a first offense, a person convicted of a violation could be sentenced to imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1000, or both.
- Second offenses carried out within five years of the first offense will land the person up to two years in prison, a $2000 fine, or both.
- Third offenses carried out within five years of the first offense will land a person up to three years in prison, a $3000 fine, or both.
All offenses carry a requirement of mandatory participation in a drug and alcohol education or treatment program.
Maryland cannabis testing regulations
Following the aftermath of the nationwide VAPI outbreak in 2019, Maryland lawmakers expanded the state’s testing requirements to include the presence of toxic levels of heavy metals in medical cannabis.
This change means testing must now be performed both on flower at the growing stage and on oil at the processing stage. Lawmakers call the move—which is required for vaping products only—a correction to an oversight in the original medical marijuana law.
Lead is the main culprit, but chromium, manganese, and nickel have also been identified as problem contaminants. State law covering all medical marijuana products—not just vape carts—also calls for product batches to be tested for hair, insects, mold, and microbiological impurities. Testing in Maryland must be carried out in certified independent testing laboratories.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Maryland
Here are some frequently asked questions about Maryland marijuana legalization.
Can medical patients cultivate cannabis in Maryland?
No. Only MMCC-licensed growers may grow in Maryland.
Is Maryland a medical state?
Yes. Maryland has legalized medical cannabis but has not legalized recreational cannabis.
How much medical cannabis can be purchased?
The certification provided by a patient’s registered provider identifies the quantity of dried flower and THC that the patient may purchase within a 30-day period. The limit is calculated as a rolling 30-day limit and is not determined by calendar month.
What fees do patients have to pay to acquire a medical cannabis card?
Patients pay $50.00 at the time of registration for an MMCC ID card.
Does a criminal record affect access to medical cannabis in Maryland?
Individuals convicted of non-violent misdemeanors are shielded from criminal record requests and can access medical cannabis. Individuals who have been charged with a felony are not able to apply for positions as growers, dispensary agents, or processors of cannabis.
Are edibles available to medical marijuana patients?
At present, edibles are not available to medical marijuana patients.
Where can I obtain medical cannabis?
A Maryland patient can only acquire medical cannabis from a Maryland-licensed dispensary.
Are minors able to qualify for medical marijuana?
A qualifying patient under the age of 18 years may obtain medical cannabis only through their parent or guardian. They must undertake a different registration process.
Learn more about marijuana legalization in Maryland
Learn more about the regulations and laws surrounding cannabis policy in Maryland:
- Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
- Division of State Documents Health page, Chapter 62
- Americans for Safe Access, Maryland
- NORML overview of laws and penalties, Maryland
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Post last updated Sept. 5, 2020