Maryland’s long-awaited marijuana legalization law came into effect, granting individuals the ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for personal use. This development coincided with the opening of most existing medical cannabis dispensaries to adult consumers for recreational sales.
Additionally, a separate law prohibiting police from using the odor or possession of marijuana as a basis for search was enacted. Another law ensures that responsible cannabis use by parents or guardians cannot be deemed as child “neglect.”
Nearly 100 dispensaries in Maryland have been approved to transition into dual licensees, allowing them to serve both patients and adults over 21 years old, following last year’s ballot measure approval.
Lawmakers have worked diligently to establish the necessary infrastructure alongside the legalization of possession and home cultivation. Governor Wes Moore signed legislation in May to create a regulatory framework for cannabis sales, aligning with the goal of a seamless transition.
As of the implementation date, the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) has approved 42 cultivators and manufacturers to supply the newly formed market. The MCA, in collaboration with industry partners, expressed excitement about offering legal and tested cannabis to adults, emphasizing the importance of informed and responsible consumption.
Authorized cannabis products available for purchase include dried flower, pre-rolled joints, vape cartridges, disposable vape pens, edibles, capsules, tinctures, and topical products with specific THC limits. Public smoking of cannabis is strictly prohibited, along with its consumption in bars, restaurants, public transit, outdoor spaces, and moving vehicles. Driving under the influence of cannabis remains illegal, as does transporting purchased cannabis products out of state.
The MCA has developed educational materials for the public and consumers to promote safe and responsible cannabis use. Dispensaries have received point-of-sale education materials, aiding new or novice consumers in making informed choices. Posters highlighting an overview of the laws, encouraging gradual consumption, and emphasizing the secure storage of cannabis at home will be displayed.
Lawmakers, including Senator Brian Feldman and Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins, who championed the legislation, celebrated the progress made in the cannabis landscape. Wilkins acknowledged the industry’s creation and expansion in Maryland, remarking on the positive impact this has on dismantling the war on drugs.
In May, the MCA released comprehensive rules for the industry, covering definitions, personal possession limits, regulatory responsibilities, licensing protocols (including provisions for social equity applicants), enforcement authorities, penalties, and packaging requirements. The Department of Commerce also began accepting applications for grants to assist existing medical marijuana businesses in converting to dual licensees.
Advocates, including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), highlighted the significance of these laws in reducing police interactions and providing legal access to cannabis for adults aged 21 and older. Expungement of convictions for conduct now legalized and resentencing for individuals currently serving related offenses will also be facilitated.
Maryland’s marijuana legalization law reflects a growing trend towards cannabis reform across the United States, granting individuals the freedom to possess and cultivate cannabis for personal use while enacting safeguards and regulations to ensure responsible consumption.