Medical Marijuana in Maryland
The State of Maryland has been a key advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana. In 2003, the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act created an affirmative defense for medical cannabis patients if they were charged with possession of less than one ounce – carrying a maximum fine of $100.00. This protection was extended to caregivers in 2013 with the passage of House Bill 180.
By 2011, Senate Bill 308 authorized patients to use medical cannabis so long as they demonstrated a severe and debilitating condition pursuant to the law. In 2013, the passage of House Bill 1101 allowed medical and academic centers to conduct research on medical marijuana. Furthermore, this bill established the Natalie M. LaParade Medical Marijuana Commission (“MMCC”), which was granted the responsibility to develop regulations for medical marijuana cultivation, research, and use.
On April 14, 2014, Governor O’Malley signed Senate Bill 923 into law, which established a legal, all-inclusive medical marijuana program. By 2017, Maryland’s medical marijuana program became fully operational as the sixteen-member MMCC implemented a framework for licensing, registration, testing, and other matters relating to the State’s medical marijuana program.
Once the Medical Marijuana law took effect, physicians and other approved health professionals began registering with the state so they could start helping patients with qualifying medical conditions. Maryland, unlike many other states, decided to allow registered dentists, podiatrists, and nurse practitioners—as well as MDs—to diagnose patients and prescribe medical marijuana. See House Bill 104 (2016).
By 2019, the State of Maryland had granted eighteen (18) grower licenses and eighty-five (85) dispensary licenses. Though Maryland patients were more than ready to purchase, they had to wait another five (5) years for state dispensaries to open their doors.
Recreational Marijuana Use in Maryland
On January 12, 2022, Maryland’s House of Representatives introduced a measure to be placed on the 2022 General Election ballot that addresses the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana. If the Legislature passes this measure and it is then approved by voters, the Maryland legislature must create rules and policies regarding recreational marijuana use, possession, distribution, regulation, and taxation.
Applications for Medical Marijuana Business Licenses in Maryland
The first application phase for a medical marijuana business license was in November 2015. With the passage of Natalie M. Laprade Medical Cannabis Commission Reform Act in 2018, the MMCC was authorized to grant additional licenses to small-, minority-, or women-owned businesses. Due to concerns, a state judge is requiring independent investigations of the fourteen (14) additional licenses prior to acceptance.
As a result, medical marijuana business license applications are not currently available. However, as recreational marijuana use is at the forefront of Maryland’s legislative change, now is the time to create your business structure and operations plan. You can provide your information here to receive notification updates related to Maryland cannabis licensing matters. Schedule a time to discuss your options with us here.