Dispensaries across the Old Line State are buzzing and cash registers are ringing as Marylanders queue and celebrate: Adult use of cannabis – marijuana – weed – ganja is now legal for medical and recreational purpose. Growing your own is permitted under law. To a large degree, for the first time, a bit of freedom for cannabis consumers finally has arrived.
What do you need to know? Well, we’re not totally free. Here is the drill, direct from the Maryland Cannabis Commission:
I can’t smoke in public?
Smoking cannabis (and hemp) is prohibited in any public place. This includes outdoor spaces and indoor spaces open to the public including parks, streets and sidewalks, bars and restaurants, public transportation (e.g, buses, vans, trains, taxicabs, limousines), and indoor places of employment. Because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, you also may not possess cannabis on any federal property such as a national park.
Driving high can lead to a DUI?
Using cannabis while driving (by a driver or passenger) and impaired driving remains illegal under Maryland law. Law enforcement officers can make a cannabis DUI arrest if they observe impairment using a standard field sobriety testing (roadside test) method. Let’s keep Maryland safe and plan ahead before using cannabis. Learn more with this Cannabis and Driving Don’t Mix fact sheet.
A little high is too high to drive?
Cannabis can impair important skills needed for safe driving. These include coordination, judgment, and reaction time – remember, reacting too slowly can be just as dangerous when driving. Because it may not be easy to recognize when you are impaired by cannabis, and effects from cannabis edibles can be delayed, be responsible and always make a plan before consuming. Learn more with this Cannabis and Driving Don’t Mix fact sheet.
I can only buy it if I’m 21+?
Like tobacco and alcohol, the legal purchase age for cannabis in Maryland is 21 or older. Valid, government ID (driver’s license, passport) is required at the point of sale. Licensed dispensaries are the only place to legally buy cannabis in Maryland.
I can’t take it out of Maryland?
Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and you may not carry or transport cannabis over state lines. It remains illegal to leave (or enter) Maryland with any cannabis products – medical or adult-use (non-medical) products. Mailing cannabis in or out of the State is illegal.
Questions about new adult-use legislation
How can I buy cannabis products? What products can I purchase?
Cannabis products may be purchased from licensed dispensaries. Cannabis products are subject to a 9% sales tax (the same as alcohol).
A person may purchase cannabis or cannabis products from a licensed dispensary if they display a government-issued photo ID at the point of sale that demonstrates they are 21 years or older (driver’s license, state ID card, passport/passport card, military ID, tribal card). Individuals will only be able to purchase up to the personal use amount authorized under law. This amount is up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower (including joints and pre-rolls), 12 grams of concentrated cannabis (vape products), or a total amount of edible cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg THC.
Who regulates the expanded medical and adult-use cannabis industry?
HB 556 and SB 516 established a new agency, the Maryland Cannabis Administration, to regulate cannabis businesses in the State. Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission staff transitioned to the new agency to provide continuity of operations for businesses and patients in the medical program, and new regulations governing health, safety, and security are supplemental to the existing medical cannabis program regulations.
How does the legalization of adult-use cannabis impact the medical cannabis program?
The new law does not directly impact the medical cannabis program. Patients may continue to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries, and individuals 18 years or older may register to participate in the program. The new law specifically establishes patient-only operating hours or dedicated service lines for patients, product availability, and other accommodations to ensure that registered patients continue to be able to access necessary medication.
I am interested in a cannabis license, what should I do?
The legislation establishes at least two separate rounds of licensing. The first round is scheduled to be held in the fall of 2023, with the second round after May 1, 2024. Prior to the first application round, the new Maryland Cannabis Administration will conduct extensive outreach and education on the licensing process and cannabis industry. A mix of in-person and virtual events will provide interested individuals and businesses with information on how to apply and application requirements, and connect potential applicants with industry experts to learn more about the cannabis industry. If you would like to be notified of when the applications will be made available, click here to submit your contact information. Outreach will begin after July 1.
How did cannabis become legal for adult-use in Maryland?
Maryland voters approved a ballot referendum in the 2022 General Election to allow the use of cannabis by adults 21+ (hence, “adult-use”) starting July 1, 2023. During the 2023 legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation that provided a framework for implementing legal adult-use sales, including a licensing and taxation framework (see House Bill 556/Senate 516). The Cannabis Reform Act, which took effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature on May 3, 2023, authorized existing licensed dispensaries to convert their licenses for dual medical and adult-use sales by July 1, thereby creating a legal adult-use marketplace as of July 1, 2023. The Act also authorized the Maryland Cannabis Administration to issue additional grower, processor, and dispensary licenses, and new incubator licenses over two licensing rounds.
How does the legislation address social equity?
The legislation prioritizes equity in cannabis licensing and seeks to ensure that individuals and communities harmed by cannabis prohibition can access the economic opportunities associated with cannabis legalization. Specifically, it prioritizes diversity and equity in licensing by:
- Establishing exclusive social equity applicant licensing rounds for individuals and businesses from communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and enforcement;
- Providing access to capital – in the form of grants and no-interest loans – and technical application and operational assistance to businesses that qualify as social equity applicants;
- Establishing new license categories (e.g., on-site consumption, incubator) and classes of licenses (e.g., micro-businesses) that require less capital to operationalize;
- Eliminating non-violent cannabis convictions as a barrier to employment in the cannabis industry;
- Creating an Office of Social Equity that will assist social equity applicants and small, minority- and women-owned businesses apply for licenses and obtain financing for their businesses; and
- Eliminating barriers to entry for small businesses, such as property requirements, high application fees, and competitive scoring applications.
- Establish a process for expungement of cases in which possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis is the only charge (along with additional expungement provisions),
- Increase the amount of cannabis a person may possess that is subject to a civil fine rather than criminal penalty from 10 grams to 2.5 ounces (effective January 1, 2023);
- Establish new funds including a business assistance fund to increase participation in the cannabis industry by small, minority, and women-owned businesses and a community reinvestment and repair fund, which provides monies to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and enforcement. Approximately thirty percent of adult-use sales tax revenue (less MCA operating costs) goes to the community reinvestment and repair fund.
Purchase, possession, and home grow questions
My local convenience store/gas station sells THC products. Are these products legal?
As of July 1, 2023, any product containing more than 0.5 mg THC per serving and 2.5 mg THC per package, with the exception of certain full spectrum tincture products, may only be sold in a licensed cannabis dispensary. This requirement extends to all THC isomers, including delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10.
How old do I have to be to legally use or possess cannabis?
Effective July 1, 2023, a person 21 years or older may lawfully possess and use cannabis.
Is a medical card needed to purchase cannabis?
A medical card is still needed to purchase cannabis sold as part of the medical cannabis program. Learn more about the Medical Cannabis Program here.
Does Maryland have reciprocity for medical cannabis patients from other states?
Will the military be exempt from the age requirement, i.e., can they purchase at age 18?
No, members of the military are not exempt. Only persons aged 21 years or older may use or possess non-medical cannabis. Other federal restrictions on the use or possession of cannabis may apply to members of the military.
How much cannabis can I legally possess?
Adults 21 years and older may possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis; or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg of THC. This is known as the “personal use amount.”
I am under 21. Are there penalties for underage use and possession of cannabis?
A person under 21 years of age may not possess or use non-medical cannabis. Possession of 2.5 ounces or less (a civil use amount) may result in a fine, a court order to attend drug education programming, and a referral for assessment and/or treatment of substance use disorder. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces may result in criminal penalties.
Is it legal to grow cannabis at home?
A person 21 years or older may lawfully cultivate up to two plants in their home, out of public view. Likewise, a household may cultivate a maximum of two plants, regardless of how many persons over age 21 live in the residence. Individuals under 21 are not permitted to cultivate cannabis plants. In addition, medical patients registered with the Maryland Cannabis Administration can cultivate two additional plants, for a total of four plants; not to exceed more than four plants in a given residence. Landlords and property owners can prohibit growing cannabis on their properties.
Use and consumption questions
Where can I legally use cannabis?
Adults 21+ can use cannabis in private homes and private property. However, landlords and management companies can prohibit cannabis use. If you rent, be sure to read your rental agreement. Most hotels do not permit guests to smoke cannabis in their rooms. Ask the hotel reception desk about their policy. If you stay in a vacation rental, check with the property owner about their rules for your stay.
Can I use cannabis at work?
The Cannabis Reform Act does not address cannabis use or impairment in the workplace. Individuals remain subject to any existing laws and workplace policies on substance or cannabis use (e.g., federal laws prohibiting the operation of commercial transport vehicles while impaired, or workplace policies prohibiting cannabis use specifically and/or impairment generally). The legislation does not address the use of employer drug screening of employees or prospective employees. Your employer or prospective employer can provide more specific information about its policies regarding substance use in the workplace.
Public health and safety questions
How does the new law protect youth?
In addition to prohibiting cannabis use and possession for individuals under 21 years of age, the Cannabis Reform Act includes public health best practices to prevent youth access and to reduce the appeal of cannabis to youth. These include marketing and advertising restrictions, age verifications at the point of sale, child-resistant packaging, and restrictions on sales near schools and youth-serving locations like libraries and parks.
What should parents know about youth use of cannabis?
Cannabis use can harm the health and well-being of youth and young adults. Cannabis use may permanently affect the developing brain, especially with regular or heavy use. Parents, caregivers, and trusted adults should discourage youth and young adults from using cannabis; should not consume cannabis in front of youth or young adults; and should always keep cannabis out of sight and locked if it is stored in the home. See Storing Cannabis Safely fact sheet.
Are there health risks associated with adult-use cannabis?
The health impacts of cannabis use are not fully known. Studies have linked cannabis use, especially frequent use with cannabis use disorder and addiction, anxiety and paranoia, and psychosis. People who smoke or vape cannabis regularly, even without tobacco, are more likely to experience irritation or inflammation in the lining of the lungs. Secondhand cannabis smoke may also pose health risks as it has been found to contain many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke.
Is it safe to use cannabis during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
A product being legal does not mean it is safe for anyone to use. Much is unknown about the short and long-term effects of cannabis use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend NOT using any type of cannabis (including CBD) while pregnant or breastfeeding. See Cannabis and Pregnancy & Breastfeeding fact sheet.
What are the risks of mixing cannabis with alcohol, tobacco, and/or prescription medication?
Using alcohol and cannabis at the same time can result in greater impairment than when using either one alone, which can lead to a greater risk for personal harm (and harm to others). Tobacco and cannabis used together increase your exposure to chemicals that may harm the lungs and cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels). Cannabis may alter the effects and/or potency of prescription medication. Always talk with your doctor about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking and the possible side effects when mixed with other substances including cannabis.
General questions about cannabis
What is cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant with many names- marijuana, weed, pot, cannabis, hash- that can have psychoactive characteristics and is consumed for medical and non-medical (recreational) purposes. The cannabis plant has hundreds of chemical compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.
Is there a difference between “cannabis” and “marijuana”?
No. The new legislation replaces references to marijuana with “cannabis” in the Maryland Code. Either term refers to flowering plants in the genus Cannabis.
What is THC?
The cannabis plant produces more than 100 different cannabinoids, which are compounds that can have different effects on the mind and body. Tetrahydrocannabinol known as “THC” and cannabidiol known as “CBD” are the most common. THC is known for its psychoactive effects (a feeling of being high). There are different forms of THC, including delta-9-THC, traditionally found in most cannabis products. However, other forms of THC, such as delta-8-THC and delta-10-THC can also be found in cannabis plants and will be included in the regulated market as part of this legislation.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a “high” or psychoactive effect by itself.
What is hemp?
Hemp refers to varieties of cannabis plants that contain 0.3% or less delta-9-THC. The hemp plant has various industrial uses, as well as can be made into consumable products derived from hemp. The new adult-use legislation regulates consumable and inhalable intoxicating hemp products with other cannabis products while exempting non-intoxicating products, such as CBD edibles, lotions, and tinctures.