Regulated sales of adult-use cannabis have begun in Maryland, nearly eight months after state voters came out in favor of a ballot measure proposing the move.
Close to 100 dispensaries opened their doors for business across the state on July 1, with the first round of licenses for adult-use sales reserved for medical marijuana outlets.
This was stipulated in the legislation – Senate Bill 516 – to legalize recreational cannabis sales that was approved by Maryland lawmakers in April following months of negotiations over issues such as taxation and social equity. The final version was signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore in May.
The reform to Maryland’s cannabis laws ensures that all adults 21 and older in the state can legally purchase cannabis products such as flower, concentrates, vapes and gummies.
Commercial cannabis cultivation has also been legalized, as has home cultivation of small amounts for personal use.
The new legislation also entails restructuring cannabis regulation in the state, with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission now known as the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA). The agency’s new acting director, Will Tillburg, indicated he expects cannabis sales in Maryland to triple in the next year with the launch of adult-use sales.
“There’s more than 4 million eligible consumers versus 168,000 medical patients,” Tilburg said to WBAL.
In anticipation of legal recreational sales, MCA converted 95 medical cannabis licenses into ones permitting sales to all adults subject to an ID check. MCA has also approved 42 licenses for marijuana cultivation and manufacturing to service the state-legal industry.
“The Maryland Cannabis Administration, in collaboration with our industry partners, is excited to offer safer, legal, tested cannabis to adults in Maryland beginning on July 1,” Tilburg said in a statement. “We encourage adults to be informed about both the parameters of the new law and about safe and responsible cannabis consumption.”
The first legal recreational cannabis consumers in Maryland started queuing up early on the maiden day of marijuana sales, with many dispensaries having invested huge sums in upgrading their infrastructure to accommodate the expected surge in demand.
“We’ve added staff. We’ve added product. We’ve added security,” said Connor Whelton, co-founder and CEO of Releaf Shop, to WBAL television news.
Here’s the main points you need to know about Maryland’s new cannabis laws:
- Adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana.
- Criminal penalties for possession between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces of marijuana have been eliminated.
- Home cultivation of up to two plants for personal use is legal, as is gifting of small amounts to adults without remuneration.
- Past convictions for offenses which are now legal will be expunged automatically, while those currently serving time for such offenses are eligible for resentencing.
- Those with convictions for cannabis possession with intent to distribute will be able to petition the courts for expungement three years after serving their sentence.