Questions about new adult-use legislation
I heard the General Assembly passed a legalization implementation bill this year, what does that mean?
Yes, in response to the voter's approval of adult-use legalization (Question 4 on the 2022 ballot), the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 556 and Senate Bill 516, which develop a framework for Adult-Use Sales to begin on July 1, 2023. The legislation has been presented to the Governor, and as an emergency bill, will take immediate effect upon the Governor's signature.
What does HB556/SB516 do?
First and foremost, the bill allows individuals 21 and older to purchase cannabis products legally from a licensed dispensary. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries will be able to sell to adult consumers on July 1, if they choose to convert their license.
Additionally, the legislation authorizes the Maryland Cannabis Administration to issue additional grower, processor, and dispensary licenses, and new incubator licenses over two licensing rounds.
How can I buy cannabis products? What products can I purchase?
Starting July 1, licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in the State will be able to sell to anyone older than 21 years of age, if they choose to convert their license. A list of licensed dispensaries that converted their license will be posted on our website before July 1. Cannabis products are subject to a 9 % sales tax (the same as alcohol).
A person may purchase cannabis or cannabis products from a licensed dispensary if they display a government-issued photo ID at the point-of-sale that demonstrates they are 21 years or older. Individuals will only be able to purchase up to the personal use amount authorized under law.
Who will regulate the expanded medical and adult-use cannabis industry?
HB 556 and SB 516 establish a new agency, the Maryland Cannabis Administration to regulate cannabis businesses in the State. Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission staff will transition to the new agency to provide continuity of operations for businesses and patients in the medical program, and new regulations governing health, safety and security will be supplemental to the existing medical cannabis program regulations.
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. The new law specifically establishes patient-only operating hours, product availability, and other accommodations to ensure that registered patients continue to be able to access necessary medication.
I am interested in a cannabis license, what should I do?
The legislation establishes three separate rounds of licensing. The first round is scheduled to be held in the fall of 2023, with the second round coming in 2024. Prior to the first application round, the new Maryland Cannabis Administration will conduct extensive outreach and education on the licensing process and cannabis industry. A mix of in-person and virtual events will provide interested individuals and businesses with information on how to apply and application requirements, and connect potential applicants with industry experts to learn more about the cannabis industry. If you would like to be notified of when the applications will be made available, click here to submit your contact information. We expect to begin conducting outreach shortly after sales begin on July 1.
Click for additional information on the anticipated timeline for the new adult-use cannabis licensing process.
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 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 referendum 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.
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.
Purchase, possession, and home grow questions
My local convenience store/gas station sells THC products. Are these products legal?
HB 566 and SB 516 establish that any product containing more than 0.5 mg THC per serving and 2.5 mg THC per package, with the exception of certain full spectrum tincture products, may only be sold in a licensed cannabis dispensary. This requirement extends to all THC isomers, including delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10.
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.
What forms of ID are acceptable?
Valid ID must be government-issued and includes a driver's license, state ID card, passport/passport card, military ID, tribal card.
Is a medical card needed to purchase cannabis?
A medical card is still needed to purchase cannabis sold as part of the medical cannabis program. Learn more at Medical Cannabis Program
Will Maryland have reciprocity for medical cannabis patients from other states?
Only individuals who are registered, certified Maryland medical cannabis patients and caregivers can purchase products under the parameters of Maryland's Medical Cannabis Program. However, individuals from out-of-state who are at least 21 years of age with government-issued ID will be permitted to purchase adult-use cannabis from licensed dispensaries in Maryland beginning July 1, 2023. Interstate transport of cannabis is still prohibited under federal law.
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 and 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. In addition, medical patients registered with the Maryland Cannabis Administration can cultivate two additional plants, for a total of four plants; not to exceed more than four plants in a given residence. Landlords and property owners can prohibit growing cannabis on their properties.
Use and consumption questions
Where is cannabis use prohibited?
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 parks, streets and sidewalks, bars and restaurants, public transportation (e.g., buses, van, 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 legislation 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 legislation 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 includes public health best 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, child-resistant packaging, 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.
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). There are different forms of THC, including delta-9-THC, traditionally found in most cannabis products. However, other forms of THC, such as delta-8-THC and delta-10-THC can also be found in cannabis plants and will be included in the regulated market as part of this legislation.
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 plants that contain 0.3% or less delta-9-THC. The hemp plant has various industrial uses, as well as can be made into consumable products derived from hemp. The new adult-use legislation regulates consumable and inhalable intoxicating hemp products with other cannabis products, while exempting non-intoxicating products, such as CBD edibles, lotions, and tinctures.
1 State Medical Cannabis Laws (ncsl.org)
2 Teens | Health Effects | Cannabis | CDC
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.