General questions about the Impact of Question 4 (adult use legalization)
Did the ballot referendum pass making cannabis use legal in Maryland for adults 21 and over?
Yes. According to the new law, beginning on July 1, 2023, adults 21 or older may possess and consume up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg THC. This amount is known as the "personal use amount."
What else does the new law do?
In addition to legalizing adult use of cannabis, passage of the ballot referendum:
- Establishes a process for expunging all cases in which possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis is the only charge, along with additional expungement provisions
- Increases the amount of cannabis a person may possess that is subject to a civil fine rather than criminal penalty from 10 grams to 2.5 ounces (effective January 1, 2023)
- Requires data collection and studies on cannabis use, impaired driving, and other health and safety issues
- Establishes a new Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council, which must study and make recommendations regarding cannabis regulation to the General Assembly
- Creates three new funds: (1) a public health fund to address health effects related to legalizing adult cannabis use (2) a business assistance fund to increase participation in the cannabis industry by small, minority and women-owned businesses (3) a community reinvestment and repair fund, which provides monies to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition and enforcement.
What other states allow adult (recreational) cannabis use?
Maryland is one of at least 20 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized adult use cannabis.1 However, it remains unlawful to transport cannabis across state lines.
Is cannabis still illegal at the federal level?
Yes, the use and possession of cannabis remains illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). States may allow adult use within their jurisdictions, but interstate transport is still prohibited under federal law. Cannabis possession also remains unlawful on federal land (including federal buildings, national parks, military bases, etc.), even within states that have legalized it.
How will legalization of adult-use cannabis impact the medical cannabis program?
The new law does not directly impact the medical cannabis program. Patients may continue to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries, and individuals 18 years or older may register to participate in the program. During the 2023 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly will determine a regulatory framework for the adult use market. The earliest adult-use cannabis will be legally sold in Maryland is July 1, 2023.
Purchase, possession, and home grow questions
When will it be legal to buy cannabis in Maryland?
It will be legal for a person 21 years or older to possess and use cannabis beginning on July 1, 2023. During the 2023 legislative session (January 11 thru April 10, 2023), the Maryland General Assembly will consider a regulatory framework for the adult use market. The General Assembly will also establish the date on which legal adult-use cannabis sales may begin in Maryland. The MMCC will provide more information as it becomes available.
Where will it be legal to purchase cannabis in Maryland?
The ballot referendum did not establish a commercial market for adult-use cannabis (e.g., retail stores, dispensaries). The new law requires the General Assembly to establish a framework for the regulation and taxation of cannabis, which the legislature will do during the 2023 legislative session (January 11 to April 10, 2023). The MMCC will provide more information as it becomes available.
My local convenience store/gas station sells THC products. Are these products legal? Are they safe?
The MMCC only regulates cannabis products sold at licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and only certified medical cannabis patients may obtain products from a licensed dispensary. MMCC is aware that products containing THC may be sold at other retail outlets throughout the State; however, the manufacture and sale of these products is not currently regulated by the MMCC or any other state agency. In addition, Maryland law restricts the sale of any product containing delta-8 or delta-10 THC to individuals at least 21 years of age.
When the law takes effect on July 1, 2023, how old do I have to be to legally use or possess cannabis?
Beginning July 1, 2023, a person 21 years or older may lawfully possess and use non-medical cannabis.
Will military be exempt from the age requirement, i.e., can they purchase at age 18?
No, members of the military are not exempt. Only persons aged 21 years or older may use or possess non-medical cannabis. Other federal restrictions on the use or possession of cannabis may apply to members of the military.
How much cannabis will I legally be able to possess?
Adults 21 years and older will be able to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis; or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg of THC. This is known as the "personal use amount."
I am under 21. Are there penalties for underage use or possession of cannabis?
A person under 21 years of age may not possess or use non-medical cannabis. Possession of 2.5 ounces or less (a civil use amount) may result in a fine, a court order to attend drug education programming, and referral for assessment and/or treatment of substance use disorder. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces may result in criminal penalties.
Will it be legal to grow cannabis at home?
A person 21 years or older may lawfully cultivate up to two plants in their home, out of public view. Likewise, a household may cultivate a maximum of two plants, regardless of how many persons over age 21 live in the residence. Individuals under 21 are not permitted to cultivate cannabis plants. The General Assembly may also adopt additional home grow laws for medical cannabis patients during its 2023 legislative session.
Use and consumption questions
Where will I lawfully be able to consume cannabis?
In general, cannabis use will be limited to private homes or residences. However, additional restrictions may apply, for example, if you live in multi-unit housing like an apartment or condominium, or if you rent your home.
Where will I not be allowed to consume cannabis?
Cannabis (and hemp) smoking is prohibited in any public place or in any motor vehicle. A public place includes outdoor spaces and indoor spaces open to the public, including bars and restaurants, public transportation (e.g., buses, vans, trains, taxicabs, limousines) and indoor places of employment. Because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, you also may not possess cannabis on any federal property such as a national park.
Can I use cannabis at work?
The referendum does not address cannabis use or impairment in the workplace. Individuals remain subject to any existing laws and workplace policies on substance or cannabis use (e.g., federal laws prohibiting the operation of commercial transport vehicles while impaired, or workplace policies prohibiting cannabis use specifically and/or impairment generally). The referendum does not address the use of employer drug screening of employees or prospective employees. Your employer or prospective employer can provide more specific information about its policies regarding substance use in the workplace.
Can I travel outside of Maryland with cannabis?
No. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and you may not carry or transport cannabis over state lines. It remains illegal to leave (or enter) Maryland with any cannabis products--medical or adult use (non-medical) products. Mailing cannabis in or out of the State is illegal.
Public health and safety questions
How does the new law protect youth?
In addition to prohibiting cannabis use and possession for individuals under 21 years of age, the legislation requires studies on the impact of legalization on individuals under 21, as well as development of recommendations for public health policy practices to prevent youth access and to reduce the appeal of cannabis to youth. These include marketing and advertising restrictions, age verifications at the point of sale, and restrictions on sales near schools and youth serving locations like libraries and parks.
What should parents know about youth use of cannabis?
Cannabis use can harm the health and wellbeing of youth and young adults. Cannabis use may permanently affect the developing brain, especially with regular or heavy use.2 Parents, caregivers, and trusted adults should discourage youth and young adults from using cannabis; should not consume cannabis in front of youth or young adults; and should always keep cannabis out of sight and locked if it is stored in the home. See Storing Cannabis Safely fact sheet.
How does the new law keep our roads safe?
Cannabis use in a motor vehicle (by a driver or passenger) and impaired driving remain illegal under Maryland law. Law enforcement officers can make a cannabis DUI arrest if they observe impairment using a standard field sobriety testing (roadside test) method. Learn more about preventing driving under the influence of cannabis with this Cannabis and Driving Don't Mix fact sheet.
Will the availability of legal cannabis lead to problem use or addiction?
Cannabis use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a cannabis use disorder (CUD), which takes the form of addiction in severe cases.3 Legalization of adult use has been generally associated with increased cannabis use, including greater past month and greater daily use.4,5,6 However, more research is needed to understand whether this increases the prevalence of CUD. Importantly, starting to use cannabis at younger ages is associated with increased risk of developing CUD.7,8 As a result, preventing youth cannabis use is a public health priority.
What are signs of problem cannabis use or addiction?
Signs may include: using more cannabis than intended; trying but failing to quit using cannabis; spending a lot of time using cannabis; craving cannabis; using cannabis even when it causes problems at home, school, or work; continuing to use cannabis despite social or relationship problems; giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using cannabis; using cannabis in high-risk situations, such driving a car; continuing to use cannabis despite physical or psychological problems; needing to use more cannabis to experience the same effects; experiencing negative symptoms when stopping cannabis use.
Where can I get help to stop or reduce my use of cannabis?
There are several options available - from counseling and group therapy to inpatient treatment - depending on what level of support you may need. If possible, talk with your doctor or health care provider about treatment options.
Are there health risks associated with adult-use cannabis?
The health impacts of cannabis use are not fully known. Studies have linked cannabis use, especially frequent use with cannabis use disorder and addiction, anxiety and paranoia,9 and psychosis 10. People who smoke or vape cannabis regularly, even without tobacco, are more likely to experience irritation or inflammation in the lining of the lungs. 11,12,13 Secondhand cannabis smoke may also pose health risks as it has been found to contain many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke.14
Is it safe to use cannabis during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
Just because a product is legal, does not mean it is safe for anyone to use. Much is unknown about the short and long-term effects of cannabis use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend NOT using any type of cannabis (including CBD) while pregnant or breastfeeding. See Cannabis and Pregnancy & Breastfeeding fact sheet.
What are the risks of mixing cannabis with alcohol, tobacco, and/or prescription medication?
Using alcohol and cannabis at the same time can result in greater impairment than when using either one alone, which can lead to greater risk for personal harm.15 Tobacco and cannabis used together increases your exposure to chemicals that may harm the lungs and cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels).16 Cannabis may alter the effects and/or potency of prescription medication.17 Always talk with your doctor about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking and the possible side effects when mixed with other substances including cannabis.
General questions about cannabis
What is cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant with many names- marijuana, weed, pot, cannabis, hash- that can have psychoactive characteristics and is consumed for medical and non-medical (recreational) purposes. The cannabis plant has hundreds of chemical compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.
Is there a difference between "cannabis" and "marijuana"?
No. The new legislation replaces references to marijuana with "cannabis" in the Maryland Code. Either term refers to flowering plants in the genus Cannabis.
What is THC?
The cannabis plant produces more than 100 different cannabinoids, which are compounds that can have different effects on the mind and body. Tetrahydrocannabinol known as "THC" and cannabidiol known as "CBD" are the most common. THC is known for its psychoactive effects (a feeling of being high).
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a "high" or psychoactive effect by itself.
What is hemp?
Hemp refers to varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3% or less delta-9 THC. The new adult-use legislation has no direct impact on hemp products, other than adding hemp to the list of substances regulated under the Clean Indoor Air Act.
1 State Medical Cannabis Laws (ncsl.org)
2 Teens | Health Effects | Cannabis | CDC
3 Is cannabis addictive? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
4 Martins SS, Segura LE, Levy NS, et al. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Cannabis Use Following Legalizaiton in US States With Medical Cannabis Laws. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e21270002
5 Cerda M, Mauro C. Hamilton A, et al. Association Between Recreational cannabis Legalization in the United States and Changes in cannabis Use and Cannabis Use Disorder From 2008 to 2016. JAMA Psychiatry. 202;77(2):165-171.doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3254
6 Zellers, SM, Ross, JM, Saunders, GRB, Ellingson, JM, Aderson, JE, Corley, RP, et al. Impacts of recreational cannabis legalization on cannabis use: a longitudinal discordant twin study. Addiction. 2022. https://doi.ord/10.1111/add.16016
7 Le Strat Y, Dubertret C, Le Foll B. Impact of age at onset of cannabis use on cannabis dependence and driving under the influence in the United States. Accid Anal Prev. 2015 Mar;76:1-5. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2014.12.015. Epub 2014 Dec 24. PMMID: 25543035.
8 Butterworth P, Slade T, Degendardt L. Factors assoicated with the timing and onset of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder: results from the 2007 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2014 Sep;33(5):555-64. dol: 10.1111/dar.12183. PMID: 25186194
9 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: the current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017.
10 Valkow ND, Swanson JM, Evins AE, et al. Effects of cannabis use on human behavior, including cognition, motivation, and psychosis: a review. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(3):292-297
11 Tashkin DP, Simmons MS, Tseng C-H. Impact of changes in regular use of cannabis and/or tobacco on chronic bronchitis. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 2012;9(4):367-374
12 Wang X, Derakhshandeh R, Liu J, et al. One minute of cannabis secondhand smoke exposure substatially impairs vascular endothelial function Journal of the American Heart Association. 2016;5(8):e003858.
13 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: the current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017
14 Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, et al. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream cannabis and tobacco cifatette smoke produced under two machine smoking condition Chemical Research in Toxicology. 2008;21(2);494-502
15 Yurasek AM, Aston ER, Metrik J. Co-use of alcohol and cannabis: A review. Current Addiction Reports. 2017;4(2): 184-193
16 Meier E, Hatsukami DK. A review of the additive health risk of cannabis and tobacco co-use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2016;166:6-12
17 Antoniou T, Bodkin J, Ho JM. Drug interactions with cannabinoids. CMAJ. 2020; 192(9):E206.