We can add Maryland to the states that have legalized recreational marijuana. There’s absolutely no doubt that individuals in favor of prohibition are fighting a losing battle.
Over three-quarters of states now allow medical marijuana, and approximately half the population live in a jurisdiction with adult-use weed.
While Maryland is one of the latest to join the party, it will surely be followed by other states in the near future. Although it is great news, it’s important to note that recreational sales won’t begin until the second half of 2023.
Therefore, you can only legally buy marijuana in Maryland with an MMJ card. This article outlines the current cannabis rules in MD and investigates when residents can expect to get their hands on marijuana without going through an application process.
What Are the Current Marijuana Laws in Maryland?
MD residents have had the opportunity to buy medical marijuana since December 2017. Yet, the state actually approved MMJ a long time before that. Indeed, the governor signed legislation that created a program in May 2013. It took almost a year for the state’s legislature to approve a bill that developed an infrastructure for medical marijuana.
An agonizing three-year wait followed as the state delayed the program. Eventually, residents were permitted to buy from licensed dispensaries in late 2017.
Fast forward to 2022, and an overwhelming majority of Maryland residents voted in favor of Question 4, which resulted in full marijuana legalization. Fortunately, unlike medical weed, residents won’t have to wait years for sales to begin.
Even so, until sales start officially, you need a medical marijuanas card in Maryland to access the substance. As a cardholder, you can buy up to 120 grams of dried cannabis every 30 days. Alternatively, you can purchase up to 36 grams of a THC product during the same timeframe.
What Punishments Are in Place for Breaking Cannabis Laws in Maryland?
Recreational legalization has changed everything. Until that point, it was a misdemeanor if you were caught with more than 10 grams. You could potentially have spent up to a year in prison. However, once recreational sales begin in July 2023, adults aged 21+ can buy and possess up to 1.5 ounces.
The new law also affects marijuana cultivation. Growing up to two plants at home will become legal if you’re 21+. This is in marked contrast to the rules before legalization. At that time, you were charged with possession with intent to deliver or simple possession, depending on how many plants you grew.
What Does the Future Hold for Recreational Marijuana in Maryland?
Fortunately, there is no multi-year waiting period for the start of recreational sales. Indeed, sales are slated to begin in July 2023. It’s important to remember that smoking marijuana in public will remain illegal. You can expect a fine of $250 if caught.
Also, a companion bill had a provision to expunge all cases where an individual was only charged with marijuana possession. It also enables individuals imprisoned for weed possession to petition for resentencing.
When it comes to the impact marijuana possession convictions have on a person’s life, the evidence is unequivocal. Recent data shows up to 20% of American prisoners are there due to a drug offense.
Furthermore, around 90% of marijuana-related arrests are for possession only. Housing an inmate costs approximately $35,000 per annum, a cost the taxpayer carries. Individuals with criminal records find it hard to get employment once released and may struggle to find housing or get welfare.
The economic and human costs of marijuana prohibition are staggering. Thankfully, Maryland is the latest state to bring common sense to the table.
As far as MD’s recreational program is concerned, if it follows the lead of other states with adult-use weed, it should experience an increase in sales year-on-year for the first few years.
Final Thoughts on Recreational Marijuana in Maryland
From July 1, 2023, adults aged 21+ can buy and possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana without going through the MMJ card process.
However, the higher purchasing limits enjoyed by medical marijuana cardholders in Maryland means you may want to apply if you require more cannabis than what adults can legally buy.