As states around the country work to modernize cannabis laws, things are changing at a fairly quick pace. Several states have already legalized recreational pot use while no fewer than 33 recognize marijuana for its medicinal value. Each of those 33 states allows medical marijuana to one extent or another.
Cannabis in Maryland is a mixed bag. Once just as strict as any other state, Maryland cannabis laws have been relaxed significantly in recent years. Marijuana possession and use has not been fully decriminalized there, but criminal penalties have been reduced.
Here are 5 things to know about Maryland cannabis law:
1. Recreational Use is Still Not Legal
Even though Maryland has relaxed its cannabis laws in recent years, it is still not fully legal to use marijuana recreationally. Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance for all intents and purposes. However, there is plenty of activity on the legislative front. Numerous groups in support of recreational marijuana plan to lobby legislators very aggressively for complete and total decriminalization.
2. Medical Use is Allowed
Maryland cannabis law does allow medical marijuana use. However, patients hoping to get access to medical marijuana must go through a three-step process in order to do so. Simply put, patients must be approved by the state and certified by a registered physician.
The legality of medical marijuana in Maryland does not give patients the right to buy and use marijuana without registration. It also does not allow patients to become growers or dispensary owners. Anyone wishing to get into the business of growing and selling medical marijuana must be licensed by the state.
3. Nonresidents Cannot Be Registered
Anyone not considered a legal resident of Maryland cannot register with the state or get a medical marijuana certificate from a physician. That is a change from the way things used to be prior to 2017, when the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission put an indefinite hold on all non-resident applications. The state no longer reviews applications from anyone not legally recognized as a state resident.
As for bringing in medical marijuana from another state, that is an open question. The federal government still considers marijuana a controlled substance. As such, transporting it across state lines is considered a federal offense. Individual users have to decide for themselves whether or not they want to take the risk. Either way, nonresidents cannot get ID numbers or certificates in Maryland.
4. Possession Laws Not Always Enforced
Setting aside the differences between recreational and medical use leads us to the question of Possession. It turns out the law is not always enforced in Maryland. Whether citizens agree or disagree, the policy of some local jurisdictions is to ignore possession violations. Baltimore is a good example.
It is not clear whether choosing to not enforce possession laws also applies to growing and selling. Unfortunately, that is the quandary created when local jurisdictions choose not to prosecute possession violations.
5. Doctors Must Be Registered
Finally, doctors wishing to provide medical marijuana certificates to patients in need cannot simply do so on their own. They must be registered with the state. Registration includes a complete and formal application process that guarantees doctors are qualified to issue certificates.
Patients hoping to obtain a medical marijuana card in Maryland can check with their GPs or family doctors. In the absence of a regular doctor, patients can use a service like Veriheal to find doctors approved by the state. Veriheal also helps patients find local dispensaries.
Maryland cannabis laws are a mixed bag. If you live in the state, expect more changes in the coming years.