Medical Cannabis in Maryland
Marijuana Venture’s ongoing series on various legal markets in the United States explores the ever-changing rules and regulations, market trends, demographics, business leaders and more for states that have legalized marijuana for medical or adult use. This month we switch our focus to five leading medical markets, beginning with Maryland, which enacted its program in 2014.
Maryland’s history with medical marijuana goes back to 2003, when then-governor Robert Ehrlich Jr. became the first Republican to relax penalties for medical marijuana patients, though it would still be more than a decade before a true medical infrastructure was approved.
Following a spike in possession arrests in 2010 that saw Maryland reach the fifth-highest arrest rate per capita, the state’s focus began to shift. In 2013, then-Governor Martin O’Malley created a very limited program, restricted to medical centers. The following year, however, the Legislature passed and O’Malley signed a law creating a full, functioning, licensed program, capped at 94 dispensaries, two for each state Senate district.
After years of delays and another legislative victory to decriminalize possession, which survived a veto from the governor at the time, Maryland’s program officially launched in December 2017.
The state’s regulatory authority, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, is named in honor of the mother of former Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn, a major sponsor of the legislation. LaPrade died from kidney cancer at the age of 87, and Glenn believed medical marijuana would have significantly helped her mother during her treatment and in the last weeks of her life.
The program covers nine specific ailments and includes an option for other medical conditions for which other treatments have been ineffective or for patients in hospice or palliative care. By November 2021, the program had grown to 144,936 registered patients and were on track for $552 million in total sales for the year.
Marijuana Venture will continue looking at medical markets across the country in upcoming issues, including Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Missouri. For information about upcoming issues or to learn about advertising and sponsorship opportunities, email Editor@MarijuanaVenture.com.
A special thanks to Sunburst Pharm and SunMed Growers for sponsoring this issue.
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