Residents of Maryland held their collective breath in 2014 as voters and legislators decided on the future of weed. It was a partial relief when the results came back in favor of medical marijuana.
Right now, recreational cannabis is still illegal, although it was decriminalized. This might change on the ballot of November 2022. Until then, you must have a medical marijuana card to partake of the bud legally.
What does “decriminalized” mean, and how can you get weed while you’re in the Old Line State? Here’s everything you need to know about the legalities of Maryland and cannabis.
1. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is In Charge
The only way to legally get your hands on marijuana is to have a medical marijuana card. And to obtain that, you’ll deal with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC).
Your doctor can approve your request if you meet certain conditions, but the final say comes from the MMCC. These conditions are typically accepted as long as the application includes the correct documentation:
- Anyone with chronic or debilitating diseases or conditions causing them to be admitted to hospice or receiving palliative care
- Those with chronic or debilitating diseases with symptoms of nausea, seizures, chronic pain, eating disorders, or muscle spasms (for instance, cancer with chemo and radiation therapy)
- Patients with a severe diagnosis that doesn’t respond to other treatments
- Those with glaucoma
- Patients with certain mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
For more information on what’s required to get an MMJ license in Baltimore and other Maryland cities, check out this article by MetroXMD.
2. Decriminalization Has Caveats
The act of decriminalizing cannabis doesn’t mean there are no consequences if you’re caught with it. If you don’t have an MMJ card, you’re still going to have penalties.
Here’s a short summary to give you an idea of how severe the punishment is for different scenarios.
If you’re caught with less than 10 grams of cannabis, and it’s your first time, look at the weed as the most expensive you’ll ever buy. The fine is $100 and confiscation.
Over 10 and under 50 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 and one year in jail. Beyond 50 grams is a felony with a max of five years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.
Intent to Distribute
Intent means everything. If law enforcement officers think you’re planning on distributing your supply, penalties go to the next level.
Less than 50 pounds or more than 50 pounds with a first offense are felonies with a five-year prison sentence and a $15,000 max fine. Over 50 pounds a second time, and you’re considered a drug kingpin. You’ll be sentenced to 20-40 years in jail with a one million dollar fine.
Where you were located with the possession matters, too. Stay away from schools and anyplace where children frequently visit, or the penalties increase.
On top of personal use and intent to distribute, cannabis has other illegal aspects, too. Trafficking is always a felony. Cultivation and having hash or concentrates carry similar penalties as personal possession.
3. You Can’t Buy MMJ From “Just Anywhere”
You have your MMJ card in your hand, and you’re excited to go shopping. E-commerce might be your preferred method, but it doesn’t work for medical marijuana.
To buy cannabis in Maryland, you must head to one of the state-approved dispensaries. There are two allowed at any given time within each of the 47 legislative districts, for a total of 102 operating dispensaries in the state.
If you run into a licensed grower, they might have a dispensary license, but you can’t buy from them. Their license allows them to sell to licensed processors or licensed dispensers only.
Shop around at the multiple dispensaries near your town. They’ll each carry a variety of products, and you could find some in another shop that isn’t available in your usual store.
Weed legalization in Maryland is gaining traction, but it hasn’t quite gotten where it needs to be yet. Voters can have another shot at legalizing recreational cannabis in November 2022. For now, getting a medical marijuana card is your best bet to get legal weed.