Maryland Cannabis Laws

Is Cannabis Legal In Maryland?
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StateRecreationalMedical MarijuanaCBD

Federal Law:

Recreational Medical MarijuanaCBD

Is recreational cannabis legal in Maryland?

No. Recreational use of cannabis is currently illegal in Maryland. Support for legalization has slowly gained popularity beginning with the decriminalization of 10 grams or less in 2014.

2019, via the state’s General Assembly, a marijuana legalization group, began considering legalizing adult use. Following a template from their last attempt at legalization in 2017, an adult-use bill would include: allowing adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants, imposing a $30/oz excise tax for cultivators and a 9% sales tax (mirroring the sales tax for alcohol sales). As of 2021, possibly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, progress has stalled. 

Before decriminalization, Maryland had some of the highest arrest rates for cannabis in the country, disproportionately affecting BIPOC citizens. Reports noted that BIPOC citizens were 3 x more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white Marylanders. Maryland’s house brought forth a Bill (83), or equity, to shield residents with low-level marijuana convictions to be seen from public view, which was defiantly vetoed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. 

Is Medical Marijuana legal in Maryland?

Yes. While Maryland’s medical marijuana program was established in 2013, it did not become operational in 2017. With continued progress over the last couple of years, the program expanded to 18 growers, 82 dispensaries, and more than 550 healthcare providers to certify patients and at least 70,000 registered patients. 

Are CBD products legal in Maryland? 

Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC. 

Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

Is medical marijuana delivery legal in Maryland?

Yes. Medical Marijuana deliveries are legal within Maryland, but delivery services are still subject to local limits based on time, place, and manner of delivery (operating hours and delivery locations).

Maryland’s Cannabis Timeline:

1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.

1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession. 

1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth”.) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.

1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.

Classification of Controlled Substances:

Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use

Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use

Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins.”,

1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.  

2013: Maryland Gov. O’Malley signed legislation establishing the state’s medical-marijuana program. 

2014: Maryland Gov. O’Malley signed a law decriminalizing the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis to a civil infraction. 

2016: Maryland General Assembly decriminalized cannabis paraphernalia.

2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

2017: Maryland’s medical marijuana program became operational.

2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.

2019: Maryland’s General Assembly assigned a Marijuana workgroup for potential recreational-use legalization. 

2020: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill to hide low-level marijuana convictions.

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