2018 was the first full calendar year for medical marijuana in Maryland with over 65 dispensaries all around the state. While cannabis is still relatively new with many areas slated for improvement, Maryland has made large strides for the industry and has developed a close-knit community, welcoming new patients with open arms.
As Maryland is focused solely on the medical market, the industry has been encouraged to hone in on patient needs as opposed to tourists for recreational use. This availability of safe medical marijuana has also resulted in educated patients, pushing many companies to innovate and consistently bring new products to the shelves.
Compiled from Leafly reviews, chats with our local budtenders, and buzz on social media, check out the best of Maryland in 2018.
Best Overall Dispensary: Health for Life
Health for Life is somewhat new to the Maryland scene, opening its flagship Bethesda dispensary in August 2018, their Baltimore dispensary in October 2018, and most recently, their White Marsh dispensary. While new, we have seen each dispensary consistently get 5-star ratings with rarely any complaints, even as the reviews continue to roll in.
With these three locations across Maryland, patients love the consistency. They know they can rely on a clean, modern facility with an always knowledgeable and friendly staff on hand. The beautiful interiors, complete with copper accents and rustic wood paneling, are only upstaged by the wide selection of products.
Best Budget Dispensary: Starbuds
With their location being convenient for many coming in and out of Baltimore, Starbuds sees consistent traffic throughout the day. On a Tuesday at 2p.m., I had a little bit of a wait, but their employees knew how to keep the patients flowing with the right amount of attention to detail. Their deli-style display is impressive, allowing you to peruse while waiting, and also makes patients confident in the flower they purchase.
Their rewards system and daily deals not only keep the deal-chasers happy but answers the needs of low-income patients. Starbuds sees a variety of cannabis consumers, and while price is not an issue for some, Starbuds doesn’t want to turn away those in-need and on a budget. Say a veteran or elderly patient in need of pain-relief comes in the door with a $10 or $20 bill, there are options.
Best Boutique Dispensary: Pure Life Wellness
If I could live in a dispensary, I would want it to be this one. Your experience begins with the location—this dispensary is set amongst other shops and restaurants in the historic main street area of Federal Hill. Once you walk inside, you are welcomed with beautiful artwork and a friendly staff. You will see familiar faces each time you return (including the owners themselves). The clean, white-washed atmosphere is anything but sterile. Their beautiful space is complemented by their knowledgeable staff. Plus, they encourage wellness across all aspects of your life, including a weekly yoga class led by their GM and yoga instructor in their second-floor space.
Best Overall Company: Green Thumb Industries (GTI)
Green Thumb Industries (GTI) is a national cannabis cultivator, processor, and dispensary operator. While GTI is based in Illinois, they have developed quite a presence in Maryland in 2018 with three dispensaries (soon to be four) and multiple product brands. As a vertically integrated company, you may more commonly know them as RISE, Rythm, The Feel Collection, and Dogwalkers. Each of their brands has a distinct personality and meets different patient needs, from vape and tinctures to pre-rolls. GTI also has a cultivation and processing facility in Centreville in partnership with Chesapeake Alternatives.
Best Flower Products: Curio Wellness
From budtenders to patients to social media, it would be hard to not know about Curio Wellness. While their dispensary (complete with a spa) is great for those in the Timonium area, their products are accessible and sold in other dispensaries across the state. They are known for their premium flower, utilizing the industry’s most advanced HVAC and water systems in their state-of-the-art facility. With over 20 strains to offer, some favorites include Captain’s Cake, Chocolate Mint, and Strawberry Aurora.
Best Concentrate Products: Liberty
Washington DC-based Liberty organizes all of their products by how they make you feel, a convenient way to navigate the cannabis world with an end goal in mind. With options like Vitality, Clarity, Harmony, Tranquility, and Serenity, it is hard to say no to those desired results.
Not to mention, they are currently the only brand to produce the Pax Pods for Maryland patients, with patients consistently reporting that they last longer and taste better than other vape options.
Best Topical: Dixie Synergy Balm
This product is one that consistently brings new patients into dispensaries. Since topicals are absorbed through the skin, Dixie Synergy Balm doesn’t produce the psychoactive effects typically associated with THC. This is often a draw for newbies who are strictly looking for pain relief. The Dixie Synergy Balm brings together the best of both worlds with a 1:1 ratio of both THC and CBD. The name SYNERGY speaks to the fact that these individual cannabinoids work best when together, helping to tackle inflammatory and chronic pain issues. Check Greenhouse Wellness in Columbia for a bottle.
Best Edibles: Verano Troches
Before we dive into this one, let me be clear that “edibles” and infused food products are not legal in Maryland. While you won’t find brownies or candy at dispensaries, Maryland still has plenty of ways for patients to ingest cannabis, including tinctures, tablets, and elixirs. The most popular option of 2018 goes to Verano Chewable Troches. What are troches, you ask? It is a fancy word for a medicated lozenge. Verano offers Watermelon THC troches, along with Strawberry-Peach and Mandarin CBD troches with a few CBD to THC ratio options. The 5mg troches helps patients dip their toe in the kind of edible, not technically edible world without fear of overdoing it.
Best High-CBD Product: Painkiller XL by gLeaf
Painkiller XL is known for its incredibly high CBD content, usually ranging from 17-21% CBD. Produced by gLeaf, this CBD-dominant cultivar is turned to when patients seek to eliminate pain, stress, and anxiety. This strain provides a great balance between that potent pain relief and a cerebral euphoria. Available at Starbuds, GreenLabs, and Charm City Medicus.