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Maryland Cannabis Facts

Updated on May 6, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

State law says the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission “is encouraged to approve” medical marijuana recommendations for:

  • Patients with chronic or debilitating diseases or medical conditions who have been admitted to hospice or are receiving palliative care;
  • Patients with a chronic or debilitating disease whose symptoms include (or for which the treatment produces side effects that include) cachexia, anorexia, or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe or persistent muscle spasms; and
  • Patients who are diagnosed with any condition that is severe, for which other medical treatments have been ineffective, and for which the symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by the medical use of marijuana.
  • The commission specifically lists glaucoma and post-traumatic stress disorder as qualifying conditions.

In 2018 the state of Maryland began awarding licenses for dispensaries that are expected to begin opening.

Medical Marijuana Facts for Maryland

  • Under current Maryland State law, a person in possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana faces up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A conviction for possession of over 10 grams can result in up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • The state legislature passed a bill in 2014 that decriminalized possession of small amounts (less than 10g) of weed, making it a civil rather than criminal offense. However, some law enforcement agents across the state have been charging people who had as little as two baggies of pot with intent to distribute, as well as possession, even though they had fewer than 10 grams.
  • Certain state leaders attempted to re-criminalize weed in 2016, but these bills were defeated in the state legislature.
  • In addition to the Maryland medical marijuana law that was placed in effect starting October 1, 2013, an affirmative defense of “medical necessity” for people charged with possession is also available. This law was changed again on June 1, 2013 and extends this “medical necessity” to charges against certain caregivers who are in possession of marijuana.
  • On May 2, 2013, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley made his state the latest to adopt medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option. The medical marijuana measure was one of several that O’Malley had to sign.
  • It is said that on June 1st, 2016, the Medical Marijuana Commission and Department of Health & Mental Hygiene may start to issue the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses necessary to meet the demand for medical marijuana by qualifying patients and caregivers that have been issued identification cards.
  • However, one of the discouraging medical marijuana facts for Maryland advocates occurred when the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, in the opinion of the state’s legislative Black Caucus, failed to establish a diversity program when issuing licenses to medical weed dispensaries. As a result, the process of opening these dispensaries was delayed, forcing patients to wait even longer. Because of this delayed rollout, dispensaries were not expected to open until either the mid- or late-2017. This is one of the slowest rollouts of a medical cannabis program in the nation.
  • Patients suffering from Glaucoma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anorexia, Chronic Pain, Seizures, Severe Muscle Spasms, Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome and severe conditions where other more traditional medical treatments have been ineffective will have access to medical cannabis.
  • Both the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission and the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene have been tasked with developing regulations outlining patient registry systems, identification cards, dispensary licensing, setting fees and possession limits. The Medical Marijuana Commission will issue yearly requests for applications from academic medical centers to operate medical marijuana compassionate use programs.

If you are interested in keeping up to date on marijuana facts for Maryland or any other state, check back with on a regular basis, and we will keep you informed. We want to be your one-stop source for all developments regarding this critically important issue, so we will provide updates as warranted.

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