Maryland Launches Legal Recreational Market

Stephen Andrews
03 Jul 2023

In Maryland, adult-use sales of marijuana are legal as of July 1. Almost 100 dispensaries were approved by state regulators in preparation for the start of legal recreational operations. The new law, which was approved by voters in a ballot measure last year, will serve both patients and adult consumers over the age of 21.

Marylanders can from now on freely and legally purchase various cannabis products such as flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, disposable vape pens, edibles, capsules, tinctures and topicals that do not contain over 10 mg of THC per serving or 100 mg of THC per package. 

The new cannabis legislation in Maryland was months in the making. In May, it was signed into law by Governor Wes Moore. Simple possession and personal cultivation also become legal under the new law. 

A second law that took effect simultaneously on July 1 prevents police from using odor evidence or possession of cannabis alone as the basis of a search. 

A third law makes it so the lawful and responsible use of marijuana by parents and guardians cannot be construed by state officials as "child neglect." 

State regulators in the Free Land permitted 95 medical cannabis dispensaries to expand their services with recreational adult-use sales. In addition, 42 cultivators and manufacturers have been granted licenses to supply the new market. 

"The Maryland Cannabis Administration, in collaboration with our industry partners, is excited to offer safer, legal, tested cannabis to adults in Maryland beginning on July 1," the agency's Acting Director, Will Tilburg, said in a press release. "We encourage adults to be informed about both the parameters of the new law and about safe and responsible cannabis consumption." 

The MCA reminded the community that "smoking cannabis is not permitted in public, including outdoor spaces, or in bars, restaurants, on public transit, and in moving vehicles."

"Driving under the influence of cannabis is still illegal in Maryland and it is illegal to transport cannabis products purchased in Maryland out of state," the MCA statement added. 

MCA Deputy Director Dawn Berkowitz said that the "administration has developed public and consumer education materials to encourage informed, responsible, and safe cannabis use and will continue to roll out a campaign in the coming weeks and months." Each dispensary will receive a supply of this educational material. 

"On the ballot last November, Marylanders made it clear they wanted an end to cannabis prohibition in the Free State. That historic moment has arrived," Olivia Naugle, a senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a press release. 

"These new laws will dramatically reduce police interaction for cannabis, and provide adults 21 and older with safe, legal access to cannabis products. We're proud to join our allies, legislative leaders, and Marylanders across the state in celebrating this victory and reflecting on the tireless work put in to get here," she said.  

The new cannabis laws in Maryland summed up:

  • Cannabis is now legal for adults 21 and older. Cannabis users in the state can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis without the fear of legal repercussions. 
  • Criminal penalties for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis are eliminated. 
  • Marylanders are also allowed to grow up to two plants at home for personal use and can gift cannabis without remuneration. 
  • Convictions for conduct made legal under the new cannabis law will be automatically expunged. Those currently serving time for any such offenses will be eligible for resentencing. 
  • Those individuals convicted for possession with intent to distribute can petition the court for expungement three years after serving out their time. 
  • Under a separate law, police will no longer be able to initiate a stop or a search of a person, a motor vehicle, or a vessel based only on odor evidence from burnt or unburnt marijuana. 
  • Under another separate law, parents and guardians who responsibly use marijuana cannot be charged with child neglect. However, a caretaker could be found liable if there's evidence the child's health or welfare is risked or harmed in any possible way. 
Stephen Andrews