A marijuana decriminalization law in Maryland has taken effect following the result of a voter-approved referendum in November.
Under the new legislation, as of January 1, 2023, it is no longer a criminal offense to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in the Old Line State.
Through this change to Maryland’s cannabis laws, adults 21 and older in possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, up to 12 grams of concentrates and/or any product containing a maximum of 750 mgs of THC face a civil violation that will amount to no more than a $100 fine. Those in possession of between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces of cannabis, up to 20 grams of concentrates and/or any product containing between 750 mgs and 1,250 mgs of THC are subject to a maximum fine of $250.
Prior to the law change, marijuana possession of up to 10 grams was treated as a criminal misdemeanor in Maryland with the possibility of up to one year in prison.
But cannabis reform in Maryland isn’t set to stop at decriminalization.
The ballot initiative approved by 65 percent of Maryland voters – Question 4 – provides for full cannabis legalization but this won’t take effect until July 1, 2023. From that date, cannabis possession up to 1.5 ounces will be legal, while amounts between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces will still be subject to a $100 fine and possession of more than 2.5 ounces will still result in a maximum $250 fine.
Maryland lawmakers are currently determining the rules and regulations that will govern the state’s legal cannabis industry, with some suggesting that legal recreational sales may not launch until 2025.
In the meantime, when full legalization takes effect, adults will be permitted to grow up to two plants at home for personal use. Otherwise, to legally get a hold of marijuana, Maryland residents will have to cross state lines into New Jersey.
The approved ballot initiative further contained provisions to facilitate expungements for low-level cannabis possession offenses. This also took effect at the turn of the year, and means that Maryland residents with such convictions now no longer need to wait four years before requesting that their records be sealed.
Indeed, under legislation passed by lawmakers ahead of the November vote, all low-level cannabis possession convictions in Maryland must be expunged by July 1, 2024.