Maryland legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2014 and implemented its medical marijuana program in 2017.
The law established the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate the Maryland industry and allows certified health-care providers to issue written certifications to patients suffering from certain chronic or debilitating diseases and other conditions that may be relieved by the medical use of marijuana.
Initially, the law only allowed marijuana in flower or extract form, but the Maryland Legislature recently authorized the sale of edible products.
Maryland is a limited-license state, meaning it has capped the total number of marijuana cultivation, processing and dispensary licenses available. As of June 2020, 16 cultivators, 17 processors and 88 dispensaries operate in the state.
Additional licenses were awarded in 2019 to rectify disparities in minority license ownership, but those licenses remain on hold as the Medical Cannabis Commission conducts a review of the minority status of the winning applicants. As of June 2020, Maryland has more than 104,000 certified patients, 8,200 registered caregivers and 1,894 certifying health-care providers.
Maryland’s laws limit criminal liability and the severity of criminal penalties associated with the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In March 2020, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill that would increase the amount of marijuana one can possess from 10 grams to one ounce. Before the bill could be taken up for consideration by the Senate, however, the Legislature adjourned due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to adjournment, lawmakers also introduced House Bill 83, which would automatically shield marijuana charges occurring before October 1, 2014 in which possession was the only charge. Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the legislation, but lawmakers will have an opportunity to override the governor’s veto during the 2021 session.
As of January 2019, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney no longer prosecutes marijuana possession, regardless of the amount or criminal history.
Maryland has not yet approved a recreational cannabis program, but recent polling suggests broad support for it among Maryland residents, and a group of lawmakers has created a legislative working group to study how to implement the legalization of adult use in the state, which could occur as early as 2021.
Sulee Stinson Clay | McKennon Shelton & Henn
Sulee Stinson Clay is a Harvard-educated lawyer with over 20 years of experience advising businesses and financiers on corporate finance, private equity, merger and acquisition and other commercial transactions. Sulee currently serves as Chair of the Corporate Group of McKennon Shelton & Henn, a minority and woman owned law firm based in Baltimore, Maryland. Sulee is also Chief Executive Officer of Stinson Bushnell Industries, doing business as Burnt Meadow Hemp, a 250-acre hemp farm and consumer product manufacturer located in Southeastern Colorado. Sulee’s understanding of the realities of operating a regulated business makes her a valuable adviser to cannabis and hemp businesses across the globe.