Maryland is prepared to become the latest state to legalize the adult use of cannabis. This is after the House and Senate approved House Bill 556 and Senate Bill 516 and sent it to the governor’s desk for signing. Approval of the bills stamped in the voter-approved referendum held in November 2022.
The Maryland cannabis bill will legalize the production, sale, and use of marijuana in the state. It provides guidelines for issuing licenses to marijuana processors, sellers, testing, and consumption facilities. Once signed, dispensaries in the state will be free to submit applications for dual licenses allowing them to sell cannabis for medical and recreational use.
Is cannabis legal in Maryland State?
In 2014, legislators in Maryland passed Bill 881 which legalized medical cannabis use. The bill also passed the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate its use. Adult-use cannabis remains illegal in the state. With the passing of the legalization bill, Marylanders will soon start to buy, possess, and use recreational cannabis.
Adult-use license applications to begin in July
Applications and submission of forms will start this July. The regulating authority is expected to start approvals for additional cannabis licenses in July 2024. The Maryland cannabis legislation will allow up to 300 retailers to open businesses in the state. Facilities will be prohibited from operating 500 feet from:
- A school
- Public park
- Childcare facility
- Recreational center
Cannabis laws in Maryland require retailers to be located a minimum of 1,000 feet from one facility to the next. The Maryland cannabis program will be managed by the Maryland Cannabis Administration. After the governor signs the bill, it will set the pace for taxation of adult-use marijuana products at 9%, the same rate imposed on alcohol products. Medical use of cannabis products does not attract taxes.
Maryland cannabis laws limit control by local governments
The cannabis laws in Maryland will prohibit local governments from imposing further taxes or refusing operational dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana. Based on the laws, qualified patients will be allowed to possess more medical marijuana. They will be allowed to grow a maximum of four plants at home.
Different from legalization laws enacted in other states, the cannabis laws in Maryland left a loophole for employee protection from sanctioning by employers if they use cannabis off the job. Marylanders and the legislators expect Governor Wes Moore to sign the legislation into law soon. The November referendum by voters directed legislators to create rules and guidelines to govern the production and sale of adult-use marijuana.
After residents approved Question 4, they allowed the passing of independent complementary law HB 837. It allows adults in the state to possess a maximum of 1.5 ounces of marijuana or 12 grams of marijuana concentrates without penalty. The Maryland cannabis law also allows adults to grow up to 2 plants in their private homes.
Two additional cannabis reform bills were sent to Maryland Governor’s desk
The legislators in Maryland additionally sent two cannabis reform bills to Governor Wes Moore’s desk. The first bill, House Bill 232 aims to expand legal protection to a parent who uses marijuana. The second bill, House Bill 1071 aims to reduce the penalty slapped on people who use marijuana in public places to a civil fine of $50. After the governor signs the bills, they will strengthen the existing cannabis laws in Maryland.
Additionally, the laws will restrain the police from taking action to search an individual or their motor vehicle on the sole basis of cannabis odor. The news created a lot of excitement for residents. Although many of them are still asking if is cannabis legal in Maryland, they have to wait a little longer for all the processes to complete.
The 110-page legalization bill passed by the legislators provides guidelines for the creation of the Maryland Cannabis Administration. Its role will be to regulate both adult use and medical cannabis in the state. Currently, the medical use of cannabis is regulated by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) established under House Bill 881 of 2014.
The tax generated from adult-use cannabis is to be distributed based on The Baltimore Banner
Based on the Maryland cannabis legalization bill, there will be guidelines for the distribution and use of the 9% tax generated from the recreational cannabis use market. In its early phases, the tax will be used to meet the cost of implementing the cannabis program. All additional revenue will be distributed based on The Baltimore Banner.
The banner gives value to morality, honesty, and respect. Based on the bill, cannabis laws in Maryland will require the government to spend 35% of the additional funds on a Community Reinvestment and Repair fund. The reinvestment will target communities in the state that are largely affected by the war on drugs.
Del. C.T. Wilson, the co-sponsor of the bill, said his team prepared it in a highly race-neutral style as guided by the courts. This is one of the reasons the sponsors approved the bill based on The Baltimore Banner. Wilson said they prepared the bill while putting a great focus on communities that were both disenfranchised and widely affected by drugs and the war on drugs.
Although the bill prohibits local governments from receiving taxes from recreational marijuana, The Baltimore Banner reported that part of taxes collected across the counties will go to the respective municipalities.
Dispensaries are required to maintain enough product supplies
There are about 100 dispensaries in Maryland selling medical cannabis. They will be free to apply for licenses to sell audit-use cannabis. Additionally, they will be required to ensure they have enough stock of cannabis products. The cannabis laws in Maryland will also require them to set specific shopping hours or have express checkout tills to serve medical patients.
Licenses will be issued in two rounds with the first one launching on January 1, 2024. This round will be for social equity applicants. This means residents who are asking if is cannabis legal in Maryland will have to wait until licenses are issued to allow dispensaries to sell adult-use cannabis. There will be an $80 million fund for supporting social equity marijuana businesses.