Is Weed Legal in Maryland?

Is recreational cannabis legal in Maryland? Is medicinal marijuana legal in Maryland? What about Maryland's CBD laws? Find out about the weed laws in Maryland in this article.

We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.

The state of Maryland was one of the original Thirteen Colonies and was settled in 1632 by George Clavert. The state was named after Queen Mary by her husband King Charles I. Maryland has around 4, 000 miles of shoreline as it borders the entirety of Chesapeake Bay. This was key to the state's early economic success.

Early settlements used Chesapeake Bay for trading, and used the land for growing tobacco which was then exported. By 1760, the modern state borders were formed after a long-running dispute with Pennsylvania. Maryland was also active in the events which led to the American Revolution and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Almost a century later, Maryland played a significant role in the American Civil War due to its strategic position. Although Maryland was a slave state, they remained part of the Union during the war.

Since World War II, the state's population has grown greatly and Maryland is now one of the most densely populated states in the U.S. As of 2015, Maryland had the highest median household income of any state, thanks to the highly diversified economy including manufacturing, higher education and biotechnology.

On the eastern side of Chesapeake Bay lies Ocean City – 10 miles of beach from the Delaware state line to the north and the Ocean CIty Inlet to the south. The popular tourist spot has a three mile boardwalk covered with restaurants, bars, retail stores and amusement games. The first wooden boardwalk was originally laid in 1900 but was only semi-permanent. The planks were laid in spring and removed and stored over winter. Trimper's Rides is set at the southern end of Ocean City and is the oldest family owned amusement park in the world.

If you're heading to Ocean Park for a holiday, can you get high on the Ferris Wheel?

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Is Recreational Cannabis Legal in Maryland?

Recreational cannabis use is still illegal in Maryland, but possession of fewer than 10 grams was decriminalised back in 2014. Decriminalization in this case means that first-time offenders can't be given prison time or a criminal record for an infraction – it is treated similarly to a minor traffic violation. There is currently a movement to increase the possession limit from 10 grams up to one ounce, which is set to come into effect in October this year.

The legislature surrounding recreational marijuana use has been hotly debated over the last decade. In 2010, Maryland had the fifth-highest rate of arrests for marijuana possession in the U.S, and almost half of all drug possession arrests were marijuana related. At this time, African Americans were almost three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Americans.

After decriminalising possession, by 2016 the state voted to decriminalise weed paraphernalia, including papers, bongs and pipes, and the smoking of weed in public. At this point, up to 61% of Maryland citizens were in favour of legalization.

In 2017, a proposition was put to the state to legalize weed in a similar manner to most legal states. The bills proposed possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, up to six flowering plants, and legally purchased weed would carry a 9% tax for the state. The legislation also carried a provision which would expunge prior convictions for marijuana possession of less than an ounce, in a similar manner to Illinois' phased approach.

When this proposition didn't pass, the Marijuana Legalization Workgroup was formed to attempt to create a bill which would suit the state. In their last meeting for 2019, the group stated that they weren't able to put together a bill at this time which allowed for both the legalization of recreational weed use and the clearing of prior convictions. 
Supporters of legalization have argued that these legal models already exist – and Maryland could easily follow Illinois' lead to create a fairer system. Local media, however, are reporting that legalization is inevitable within the state, it just may not be in the next twelve months.

Is Medicinal Marijuana Legal in Maryland?

Medicinal marijuana was introduced into Maryland state law in 2012, but didn't become operational until December 1st, 2017.

Similar to all states that have legalized medical marijuana, medicinal marijuana prescriptions in Maryland need to be certified, but Maryland allows this certification to come from physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse-midwives. Before the law came into effect, about 1% of the state's total number of practicing physicians had registered for the program, and several large health systems barred their doctors from recommending medicinal marijuana at all, citing the federal legal position.

Patients must register online before obtaining a written certification from their medical healthcare professional. Once these have been uploaded and cited, the patient receives their medicinal marijuana card. Although legal to recommend marijuana, healthcare professionals cannot legally prescribe marijuana for any condition.

The legal limit of medicinal marijuana is capped at 30 days' worth, or up to 120 grams. A total of 36 grams of THC concentrate is permitted per month. Flower, oils, topical creams and concentrates are sold at dispensaries but edibles are not permitted. Home cultivation of plants is also illegal under the current law. Maryland's list of qualifying conditions is pretty conservative when compared to other states, and is focused on severe and chronic disorders. 

Medicinal marijuana can be recommended to patients with cachexia, anorexia or severe nausea to assist with appetite. Patients suffering from seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms qualify, as do those with post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma or another chronic condition for which other treatments have been ineffective.

Medicinal marijuana purchased within Maryland cannot leave the state, and driving under the influence is illegal. Workplaces are able to test for marijuana use, and current Maryland laws do not protect marijuana usage for any reason. Unfortunately, current testing methods pick up minute quantities of marijuana from up to weeks earlier which isn't reflective of the user's current state.

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Is CBD Legal in Maryland?

In 2018, the Farm Bill was signed into federal law, permitting sale and consumption of cannabidiol (CBD) products with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.3%. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana, so CBD products won't get you high, but they do have a range of health benefits.

Topical creams, ingestible oils, food products and vape canisters are some of the myriad of ways CBD can be used. CBD can have a huge range of positive effects including reduced inflammation, increased quality of sleep and muscle recovery. They have become popular to help treat minor aches and pains through to arthritis. CBD products can also aid in reducing anxiety and schizophrenia, although research in these areas is limited. There are even studies into CBD's effect on gingivitis and how it can help you quit drinking or smoking.

For these reasons, CBD products are being discussed heavily in professional sports from skateboarding to UFC fighting. As more studies are carried out in these fields, we'll learn more about how CBD can be used to help the body with dealing with excess physical stress.

In the coming years, CBD is set to rise as a natural health alternative to over-prescribed opioids. As legalization continues, the stigma surrounding cannabis products will hopefully decrease, so studies can continue into this new era of natural medicine.

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Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond

Laura Desmond is an Adelaide-based writer with a keen interest in the arts, gender politics and social change. She is currently working to obtain a Master in Writing through Swinburne University.

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