Maryland Begins Marijuana Decriminalization

After many long debates, Maryland has announced its marijuana decriminalization law in response to the 2022 voter referendum. On July 1, 2023, adults 21 and older will be permitted to possess and consume a “personal use amount” of marijuana in Maryland, which equates to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, or a total of cannabis products less than 750 mg THC. At least 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use of cannabis.

The Future of Maryland Marijuana Use

Along with the legalization of adult recreational weed products, the approved referendum:

  • Initiates an expungement process for cases in which a person was charged for the possession of fewer than 10 grams of cannabis
  • Increases the threshold for civil fine and criminal fine cannabis possession from 10 grams to 2.5 ounces (effective January 1, 2023)
  • Enacts data collection procedures and studies to monitor the effects of marijuana use, impaired driving, and related health and safety issues
  • Establishes a Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council
  • Develops a public health, business assistance, and community reinvestment and repair fund

Of course, with such a new and emerging market, government officials will have to monitor the impact of cannabis decriminalization closely to ensure the health and safety of the public. Legalization may lead to additional regulations down the road, dependent on public response.

Where Cannabis Can be Consumed

Marijuana consumption will be permitted in private homes or residences, although restrictions may apply if residents live in multi-unit housing such as apartments. The use of cannabis or hemp products in public spaces or motor vehicles is strictly banned.

Additionally, the new law does not directly interfere with the medical cannabis program. Patients can continue to pick up medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries, and those 18 years or older are permitted to register to participate in the program.

Growing Recreational Weed

People aged 21 years or older can grow up to two plants in their house if they are out of public view. Similarly, a household is permitted to grow two plants (regardless of the number of people over the age of 21 living in the same residence). With this, selling cannabis without proper licensing will remain illegal. It will result in a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by up to three years in prison with a possible fine of up to $5,000.

Marijuana Distribution

Lawmakers have stated marijuana will be regulated to other drugs such as alcohol or cigarettes. At the end of January 2023, The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland got a preview of what’s to come for dispensaries during a weekly meeting from one of the bill’s crafters, Delegate C.T. Wilson, a Democrat from Charles County. The inside scoop hints at the ability of pre-existing licensed medical cannabis companies to convert to a license that would enable them to sell to recreational cannabis consumers (paying a hefty fee to do so). It is unknown how many or how soon these companies would be able to convert.

Emerging dispensaries must keep in mind transportation laws surrounding the drug itself. Marijuana can be shipped from one location in Maryland to another. However, since marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level, carrying or transporting marijuana across state lines (including through mail) is prohibited.

Contact our experienced drug attorneys if you are charged with a marijuana crime or need help understanding how this new law affects you.