As of July 1, recreational marijuana use has become legal for adults in Maryland. The new law permits residents aged 21 and older to purchase, possess, use, and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis. This development follows a referendum held in November, in which Maryland residents voted in favor of recreational cannabis use. Governor Wes Moore, a Democrat, signed the Cannabis Reform Act into law in May. Let’s explore the key details of the new legislation.
1. Key Provisions of the Cannabis Reform Act:
Under the law, adults aged 21 and older can grow up to two cannabis plants for personal use and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis. The cannabis products will be subject to a 9% tax. Previously, growing cannabis plants carried legal consequences, but the new law eliminates that restriction.
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2. Usage Limitations:
While the law allows residents to buy, use, and possess cannabis, it restricts consumption to private residences. Public smoking of cannabis is still not permitted. Maryland Cannabis Administration deputy director Dawn Berkowitz emphasized that the purchase limit matches the possession limit for personal use. This includes up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, or up to 750 mg of THC.
3. Legal Consequences for Possession:
Possessing more than 1.5 but less than 2.5 ounces of cannabis could result in civil fines, while possession of more than 2.5 ounces may be considered intent to distribute and lead to criminal charges.
4. Expungement of Prior Convictions:
Convictions for marijuana-related offenses that are now legal under the new law will be automatically expunged. Individuals currently serving sentences for these offenses will be eligible for resentencing. Those previously convicted of possession with intent to distribute can petition the courts for expungement three years after completing their sentences.
5. Expansion of Medical Cannabis Services:
The state of Maryland will also allow companies to provide medical cannabis to customers. Approximately 100 dispensaries have been approved to operate as dual licensees, serving both patients and adult consumers.
Maryland’s implementation of recreational marijuana laws represents a significant shift in the state’s approach to cannabis. The legislation allows adults to legally purchase, possess, use, and cultivate limited quantities of cannabis for personal use. The new law also includes measures for expunging prior convictions and provides opportunities for individuals to petition for resentencing. Maryland joins over 20 other states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adults, contributing to a changing landscape surrounding cannabis use in the United States.