Growing Marijuana in Maryland – MD Cannabis State Laws (2021)

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Like Indiana and Kentucky, Maryland was a hemp-growing state way back in the 1600s. But as the demand for hemp waned after the war and federal laws on cannabis tightened, marijuana began having a hard time finding freedom in The Free State. 

However, there is a good chance that the state may legalize recreational cannabis this year after Del. Jazz Lewis of Prince George’s County pre-filed HB 32 late last year. It was already heard a few days ago by the committee tasked with the issue of legalization.  

HB 32 will give Maryland a recreational marijuana market and also allow possession and personal cultivation for adults. More importantly, it also contains provisions on criminal justice reforms and social equity such as expungement of records, creation of social equity businesses to include minorities and the formerly incarcerated, and dedication of resources to revitalizing communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

A similar adult-use legalization bill was also filed February this year by Sen. Brian J. Feldman of Montgomery County and Senate President Bill Ferguson. SB 708 also includes the community reparations and social justice proposals in HB 32 but sets the legal amount for personal use at four ounces instead of two and calls for a gradual increase in excise tax on retail cannabis products starting at 10% instead of 20%.

This article was reviewed and updated for 2021.

Overview of Maryland Marijuana Laws

Medical marijuana has been legal in Maryland since 2017. However, it does not allow home growing for personal use. Recreational cannabis remains illegal in the state. 

  • Possession and cultivation – Possession can either be charged as simple or with intent to distribute. Cultivation is treated the same as possession.
    • Less than 10g – a civil offense punishable by a fine of $100.
    • 10g to less than 50 lbs – a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1000. 
    • 50 lbs or more – a felony punishable by a minimum of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000. Acts in the proceeding 90 days can be aggregated.
    • Less than 50 lbs but with intent to distribute – a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $15,000.
      • If the act happens in a school vehicle, or within 1,000 feet of property owned by or leased to an elementary school or secondary school – a felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $20,000. 
        • Each subsequent violation – a minimum of 5 years and up to 40 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $40,000.
      • If the offender is has a previous conviction for possession with intent to distribute – a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years
      • If the offender is found to be a ‘kingpin’ or organizer and the act involves 50 lbs or more – a minimum of 20 up to 40 years without the possibility of parole and a maximum fine of $1,000,000. 
      • If the adult offender solicits a minor in the illegal act – a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $20,000.

History of Marijuana in Maryland

Famartin / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

While not exactly blazing trails in terms of marijuana reform, Maryland is still on track and progressing towards legalization. The state isn’t as conservative with weed, in fact, efforts for the legalization of recreational began as early as 2010. What it does have is a problem with how its marijuana laws are enforced. In the same year, Maryland ranked 5th in the US in marijuana possession arrests, with 409 arrests per 100,000 residents. These made up 49.9% of all drug possession arrests in the state, with black people 2.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for the offense. 

Decriminalization

Surely enough, this led to a clamor for change. One of the most immediate and major measures to rectify the situation came in 2014 when then-governor Martin O’Malley signed SB 364 which decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less. The governor was also responsible for signing Maryland’s medical marijuana program in 2013. 

This set the stage for other bills seeking the reduction of marijuana-related penalties, such as SB 517 which decriminalized the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Both bills, as well as a few other pro-cannabis bills that failed to become law, were sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin. 

Legalization as a solution to racial disparity

However, these efforts did not make as much impact in curbing the disproportionate dispensation of enforcement against black people. It was clear that decriminalization legislation in Maryland still needed a lot of work. In 2017, the passage of SB 949 led to the reduction of the waiting period for expungement of a possession offense dow to four years. This helped those burdened by the collateral consequences of a prior conviction such as difficulty getting work, housing, or education. While similar moves to address the racial disparity issue came in trickles, such as Baltimore City’s decision to stop prosecuting possession charges, advocates argue that decriminalization is not enough and not even HB 550, which seeks to raise the possession limit up to an ounce, would effectively address the issue. 

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Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Maryland

How do Maryland marijuana laws compare with those in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.

FAQs about marijuana legalization in Maryland

Is recreational marijuana legal in Maryland?

No, adult-use cannabis is still illegal in Maryland. However, simple possession of 10 grams or less has been decriminalized.

How much marijuana can I grow in Maryland for recreational purposes?

None. Home cultivation of recreational cannabis is not allowed in Maryland.

Is medical marijuana legal in Maryland?

Yes, cannabis for medical use is legal in Maryland. However, home cultivation is still not allowed.

How much marijuana can I grow in Maryland for medical purposes?

None. Although patients are allowed to possess marijuana, home cultivation of medical cannabis is still not allowed in Maryland.

What efforts are being made to legalize marijuana in Maryland?

Del. Jazz Lewis of Prince George’s County already filed a recreational marijuana bill, HB 32, late in 2021. The bill contains a number of criminal justice reforms and social equity inclusions and also gives adults in the state the right to cultivate at home.

Meanwhile, its counterpart in the Senate, SB 708, was also filed earlier this year by Sen. Brian J. Feldman of Montgomery County and Senate President Bill Ferguson. It also includes similar community reparations and social justice proposals but sets the legal amount for personal use at four ounces instead of two and calls for a gradual increase in excise tax on retail cannabis products starting at 10% instead of 20%.

Where can I grow marijuana in Maryland?

Residents are not allowed to cultivate marijuana, whether recreational or medical, at home in Maryland.

How old do I need to be to grow marijuana in Maryland?

Only adult workers employed in a licensed marijuana production facility are allowed to grow marijuana in Maryland.

Conclusion

One major obstacle to legalization in Maryland is Republican Gov. Larry Hogan who in May last year vetoed a bill that would have shielded people with low-level cannabis convictions from having their records publicized on a state database. He reasoned that it was because lawmakers failed to pass a separate, non-marijuana measure that would address violent crimes.

However, Hogan did express an openness to the idea of full legalization, to which he said: “At this point, I think it’s worth taking a look at,” It is also worth noting that hearings on two bills that would have legalized marijuana in 2019 may have turned the heads of a few Maryland lawmakers and encouraged them to seriously consider the change even though the proposals didn’t pass at that time.

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