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Marijuana just became less illegal in Maryland. But it’s not legal yet. Here’s what you need to know

Published on January 3, 2023 · Last updated February 1, 2023
This won't be technically legal for all adults in Maryland until July 1, 2023. (J.M. Giordano for Leafly)

News flash for Maryland: Marijuana became less illegal on Jan. 1—but it isn’t fully legal to possess yet. That happens on July 1, 2023. As for stores opening…well, that’s another issue entirely.

The whole thing is confusing. We’re here to help.

Yes, voters adopted Question 4, the state’s cannabis legalization measure, with a 65% approval rate on Nov. 8, 2022.

That measure put into motion a gradual legalization schedule.

On January 1, 2023, a beefed-up decriminalization component of the state’s legalization plan—which lawmakers outlined in a pairof bills before sending the question to voters—went into effect.

As a result, personal possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis is now subject to a civil fine of up to $100, but will not result in arrest or incarceration. Public consumption will remain illegal. In other words, the ounce in your pocket will only cost you $100 if you’re nabbed but lighting up a half-gram in public will get you arrested. (Adding to the confusion, the state had already decriminalized the possession of a smaller quantity of marijuana—10 grams—a decade ago.)

On July 1, 2023, Maryland goes fully legal. As of that date, possession of up to 1.5 ounces will be legal and possession of 1.5 to 2.5 ounces will be subject solely to a $100 fine. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces may result in arrest.

Leafly holiday gift guide 2022: Maryland

So how is anyone supposed to obtain their weed?

Sadly, buying legal bud to go with your crab cakes and Old Bay remains a ways off. There is currently no plan in place to license legal cannabis stores in Maryland.

State lawmakers will need to finish crafting program guidelines and regulations before adults can purchase cannabis without a medical card. Lawmakers recently told the Baltimore Sun that rec sales might not launch until 2025.

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Furthermore, the new law permits adults to grow up to two plants at home.

The good news is that wherever you are in Maryland, you’re within driving distance from a legal store. But you’ll have to cross the state line to get there. Legal rec stores are open in New Jersey, and all adults are now able to self-certify in order to purchase in Washington D.C.’s licensed dispensaries.

Washington DC lets tourists self-certify for medical cannabis   

Maryland’s expungement process begins

In addition to the decriminalization policy, Maryland residents who have completed a sentence for marijuana possession may now request an expungement.

That policy kicked in on Jan. 1, 2023. Prior to the new policy taking effect, an individual had to wait four years after completing a sentence to petition for expungement.

House Bill 837—one of the two legalization bills that Maryland lawmakers passed in advance of the state’s legalization vote—further stipulates that all possession charges in the state (in cases where possession was the sole charge) must be expunged by July 1, 2024.

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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