Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws

NOTE: As of January 1st, 2019, administration and oversight of Maryland’ MMJ program has been transferred to the Cannabis Control Commission.

State law says the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission “is encouraged to approve” medical marijuana recommendations for:

  • Patients who are diagnosed with any condition that is severe, that other medical treatments have been ineffective, and for which the symptoms “reasonably is expected to be relieved” by the medical use of marijuana.

  • Patients with chronic or debilitating diseases or medical conditions who have been admitted to hospice or are receiving palliative care.

  • The commission specifically lists post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and glaucoma as qualifying conditions.

  • Patients with a chronic or debilitating disease whose symptoms include (or that the treatment produces side-effects that include) anorexia, cachexia, or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; seizures, severe nausea; or persistent or severe muscle spasms.

April 08, 2014, House Bill 881, was approved, and signed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on April 14, 2014 (effective June 01, 2014).

House Bill 881 charged the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission, with establishing laws for patient identification cards and registry, dispensary licensing, possession limits, and settling fees. The Commission includes provisions to issue yearly requests for applications from academic medical centers, to run medical marijuana compassionate use programs.

Effective, June 01, 2016, the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission could issue the quantity of dispensary licenses, as necessary, to satisfy the demand for medical marijuana by Maryland patients and caregivers who have been issued identification cards.

In June 2017, Maryland added to the list of qualifying physicians and nurses that may make a medical marijuana recommendation. The list currently includes doctors and nurses who are licensed by the Maryland Board of Nursing, Maryland Board of Physicians, the Maryland Board of Dental Examiners, or the Podiatrist Medical Examiners.

Maryland Medical Marijuana Telemedicine Services Online

Qualified patients in Maryland might opt to see a marijuana health care provider online rather than in-person, using the telemedicine portal, given that a medical marijuana telemedicine doctor first established a legitimate relationship with the patient in-person, afterwards all follow-up visits may be conducted via medical marijuana telemedicine services, online.

What Ailments Qualify For Medical Cannabis in Maryland

Patients in Maryland diagnosed with one of the following severe, debilitating, or life-threatening medical conditions, are afforded legal protection under the Maryland Medical Marijuana law, as per the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission

  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that results in a patient being admitted into hospice or receiving palliative care; or 
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces: 
    • Cachexia
    • Anorexia
    • Wasting Syndrome
    • Severe or Chronic Pain
    • Severe Nausea
    • Seizures or persistent muscle spasms
  • Patients diagnosed with severe conditions where other more traditional medical treatments have been ineffective
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

How to Become A Medical Marijuana Patient in Maryland

  1. There is no residency requirement to be eligible for the Maryland Medical marijuana program, you may apply as long as you have a valid US issued photo ID. Any legal Maryland resident can apply and participate in the program and any person from out-of-state who is in Maryland for the purpose of receiving medical care can be issued a written certification and obtain medical cannabis.
  2. Patients must be able to obtain legitimate medical records or health documentation that will aid their diagnosis to be recommended alternative medicine. These health records are extremely important and should be transferred over to the recommending doctor’s office or to a patient’s first-ever medical marijuana evaluation — *Schedule an appointment now
  3. Patients must obtain a written certification from a doctor or nurse that is licensed to recommend medical marijuana in the State of Maryland by the Podiatrist Medical Examiners, Maryland Board of Nursing, the Maryland Board of Physicians, or the Maryland Board of Dental Examiners. It should also be taken into consideration that patients are highly encouraged to establish a long-standing relationship with the physician conducting any evaluations — *Schedule an appointment now
  4. In order for a patient to become approved into the state’s medical marijuana program, an application for a Maryland medical marijuana card must be filled out and submitted to the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission. You must complete and submit your entire online application in one session. In order to apply, you must have an electronic copy of a valid US federal or state government-issued photo ID and proof of Maryland address or treatment at a Maryland medical facility.

Patients also have the ability to purchase an ID card for $50 from the commission to help keep track of their commission-issued Patient ID number. Though the card is not required to buy medical marijuana products, the Patient ID number is needed for certification.

Note: If a patient does not use their certification to purchase medicinal cannabis products within 120 days of it being issued, the certification becomes void.

Maryland Medical Marijuana Law

“Maryland Medical Cannabis Law” — HOUSE BILL 881 Updated as of September 2015. Section titles are not part of the law. Addendum 1 includes additional provisions enacted in Ch. 403 of 2013, Ch. 256 of 2014, and Ch. 251 of 2015.

Addendum 2 is the text of Criminal Law section § 5-601 relating to the possession of controlled dangerous substances and affirmative defense of medical necessity, and Criminal Law § 5-620 relating to controlled paraphernalia. Article — Health – General.

Title 13. Miscellaneous Health Care Programs. SUBTITLE 33. NATALIE M. LAPRADE MEDICAL CANNABIS COMMISSION. § 13-3301. Definitions. (a) In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated. (b) “Caregiver” means: (1) A person who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of cannabis; and (2) For a qualifying patient under the age of 18 years, a parent or legal guardian. (c) “Certifying physician” means an individual who: (1) Has an active, unrestricted license to practice medicine that was issued by the State Board of Physicians under Title 14 of the Health Occupations Article; (2) Is in good standing with the State Board of Physicians;

(3) Has a State controlled dangerous substances registration; and

(4) Is registered with the Commission to make cannabis available to patients for medical use in accordance with regulations adopted by the Commission.

(d) “Commission” means the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission established under this subtitle.

(e) “Dispensary” means an entity licensed under this subtitle that acquires, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers cannabis, products containing cannabis, related supplies, related products containing cannabis including food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments, or educational materials for use by a qualifying patient or caregiver.

(f) “Dispensary agent” means an owner, a member, an employee, a volunteer, an officer, or a director of a dispensary.

(g) “Fund” means the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission Fund established under § 13-3303 of this subtitle.

(h) “Grower” means an entity licensed under this subtitle that: (1) (i) Cultivates, manufactures, processes, packages, or dispenses medical cannabis; or (ii) Processes medical cannabis products; and (2) Is authorized by the Commission to provide cannabis to a qualifying patient, caregiver, processor, dispensary, or independent testing laboratory.

(i) “Independent testing laboratory” means a facility, an entity, or a site that offers or performs tests related to the inspection and testing of cannabis and products containing cannabis.

(j) “Medical cannabis grower agent” means an owner, an employee, a volunteer, an officer, or a director of a grower. (k) “Processor” means an entity that: (1) Transforms medical cannabis into another product or extract; and (2) Packages and labels medical cannabis.

(l) “Processor agent” means an owner, a member, an employee, a volunteer, an officer, or a director of a processor.

(m) “Qualifying patient” means an individual who: (1) Has been provided with a written certification by a certifying physician in accordance with a bona fide physician-patient relationship; and (2) If under the age of 18 years, has a caregiver. (n) “Written certification” means a certification that: (1) Is issued by a certifying physician to a qualifying patient with whom the physician has a bona fide physician-patient relationship; and (2) Includes a written statement certifying that, in the physician’s professional opinion, after having completed an assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, the patient has a condition: (i) That meets the inclusion criteria and does not meet the exclusion criteria of the certifying physician’s application; and (ii) For which the potential benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient; and (3) May include a written statement certifying that, in the physician’s professional opinion, a 30-day supply of medical cannabis would be inadequate to meet the medical needs of the qualifying patient.

HISTORY: 2013, ch. 43, § 5; ch. 403; 2014, chs. 44, 240, 256; 2015, ch. 251. § 13-3302. Commission established; purpose and duties, identification cards, Web site.

(a) There is a Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission.

(b) The Commission is an independent commission that functions within the Department. (c) The purpose of the Commission is to develop policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations to implement programs to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner. (d) (1) The Commission shall develop identification cards for qualifying patients and caregivers. (2) (i) The Department shall adopt regulations that establish the requirements for identification cards provided by the Commission. (ii) The regulations adopted under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph shall include: 1. The information to be included on an identification card;

2. The method through which the Commission will distribute identification cards; and

3. The method through which the Commission will track identification cards. (e) The Commission shall develop and maintain a Web site that:

(1) Provides information on how an individual can obtain medical cannabis in the State; and(2) Provides contact information for licensed dispensaries. HISTORY: 2013, ch. 403; 2014, chs. 240, 256; 2015, ch. 251. § 13-3303. Commission membership, staff, fees, fund. (a) The Commission consists of the following 16 members:

(1) The Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, or the Secretary’s designee; and (2) The following 15 members, appointed by the Governor: (i) Two members of the public who support the use of cannabis for medical purposes and who are or were patients who found relief from the use of medical cannabis; (ii) One member of the public designated by the Maryland Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence; (iii) Three physicians licensed in the State; (iv) One nurse licensed in the State who has experience in hospice care, nominated by a State research institution or trade association; (v) One pharmacist licensed in the State, nominated by a State research institution or trade association; (vi) One scientist who has experience in the science of cannabis, nominated by a State research institution; (vii) One representative of the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association;

(viii) One representative of law enforcement;

(ix) An attorney who is knowledgeable about medical cannabis laws in the United States;

(x) An individual with experience in horticulture, recommended by the Department of Agriculture;

(xi) One representative of the University of Maryland Extension; and (xii) One representative of the Office of the Comptroller. (b)(1) The term of a member is 4 years.

(2) The terms of the members are staggered as required by the terms provided for members on October 1, 2013.

(3) At the end of a term, a member continues to serve until a successor is appointed and qualifies.

(4) A member may not serve more than three consecutive full terms.

(5) A member who is appointed after a term has begun serves only for the rest of the term and until a successor is appointed and qualifies.

(c) The Governor shall designate the chair from among the members of the Commission. (d) A majority of the full authorized membership of the Commission is a quorum.

(e) A member of the Commission: (1) May not receive compensation as a member of the Commission; but (2) Is entitled to reimbursement for expenses under the Standard State Travel Regulations, as provided in the State budget.

(f) The Commission may employ a staff, including contractual staff, in accordance with the State budget.

(g) The Commission may set reasonable fees to cover the costs of operating the Commission.

(h) (1) There is a Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission Fund.(2) The Commission shall administer the Fund. (3) The Fund is a special continuing, non-lapsing fund that is not subject to § 7-302 of the State Finance and Procurement Article. (4) The State Treasurer shall hold the Fund separately, and the Comptroller shall account for the Fund. (5) The Fund shall be invested and reinvested in the same manner as other State funds, and any investment earnings shall be retained to the credit of the Fund. (6) The Fund shall be subject to an audit by the Office of Legislative Audits as provided for in § 2-1220 of the State Government Article. (7) The Comptroller shall pay out money from the Fund as directed by the Commission. (8) The Fund consists of:

(i) Any money appropriated in the State budget to the Fund;

(ii) Any other money from any other source accepted for the benefit of the Fund, in accordance with any conditions adopted by the Commission for the acceptance of donations or gifts to the Fund; and (iii) Any fees collected by the Commission under this subtitle. (9) No part of the Fund may revert or be credited to: (i) The General Fund of the State; or (ii) Any other special fund of the State.

(10) Expenditures from the Fund may be made only in accordance with the State budget.

HISTORY: 2013, ch. 403; 2014, chs. 240, 256; 2015, ch. 251. § 13-3304. Certifying physician registration, registration requirements, medical conditions, physician compensation, procedures.

(a) The Commission shall register as a certifying physician an individual who: (1) Meets the requirements of this subtitle; and (2) Submits application materials that meet the requirements of this subtitle.

(b) To be registered as a certifying physician, a physician shall submit a proposal to the Commission that includes: (1) The reasons for including a patient under the care of the physician for the purposes of this subtitle, including the patient’s qualifying medical conditions; (2) An attestation that a standard patient evaluation will be completed, including a history, a physical examination, a review of symptoms, and other pertinent medical information; and (3) The physician’s plan for the ongoing assessment and follow-up care of a patient and for collecting and analyzing data.

(c) The Commission may not require an individual to meet requirements in addition to the requirements listed in subsections (a) and (b) of this section to be registered as a certifying physician. (d) (1) The Commission is encouraged to approve physician applications for the following medical conditions: (i) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that results in a patient being admitted into hospice or receiving palliative care; or

(ii) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces: 1. Cachexia, anorexia, or wasting syndrome; 2. Severe or chronic pain;

3. Severe nausea;

4. Seizures; or 5. Severe or persistent muscle spasms.

(2) The Commission may not limit treatment of a particular medical condition to one class of physicians.

(e) The Commission may approve applications that include any other condition that is severe and for which other medical treatments have been ineffective if the symptoms reasonably can be expected to be relieved by the medical use of cannabis.

(f) (1) A certifying physician or the spouse of a certifying physician may not receive any gifts from or have an ownership interest in a medical cannabis grower, a processor, or a dispensary. (2) A certifying physician may receive compensation from a medical cannabis grower, a processor, or dispensary if the certifying physician: (i) Obtains the approval of the Commission before receiving the compensation; and (ii) Discloses the amount of compensation received from the medical cannabis grower, processor, or dispensary to the Commission.

(g) (1) A qualifying patient may be a patient of the certifying physician or may be referred to the certifying physician. (2) A certifying physician shall provide each written certification to the Commission. (3) On receipt of a written certification provided under paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Commission shall issue an identification card to each qualifying patient or caregiver named in the written certification. (4) A certifying physician may discuss medical cannabis with a patient. (5) (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, a qualifying patient or caregiver may obtain medical cannabis only from a medical cannabis grower licensed by the Commission or a dispensary licensed by the Commission. (ii) A qualifying patient under the age of 18 years may obtain medical cannabis only through the qualifying patient’s caregiver. (6) (i) A caregiver may serve no more than five qualifying patients at any time. (ii) A qualifying patient may have no more than two caregivers. (h) (1) A certifying physician may register biennially.

(2) The Commission shall grant or deny a renewal of a registration for approval based on the physician’s performance in complying with regulations adopted by the Commission.

HISTORY: 2014, chs. 240, 256; 2015, chs. 22, 251. 

READ MORE — House Bill 881 [FULL TEXT]

Maryland Marijuana Minimum Penalties

  1. Maryland has a mandatory minimum sentences for Repeat offenders who have been convicted of possession to distribute on 2 or more occasions (2 years).
  2. Possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute in a school vehicle, or in, on, or within 1,000 feet of real property owned by or leased to an elementary school or secondary school, is a felony and is punishable by, for a first violation, imprisonment not exceeding 20 years and a fine not exceeding $20,000, and for each subsequent violation, imprisonment not less than 5 years and not exceeding 40 years and a fine not exceeding $40,000. These penalties are in addition to any other conviction.
  3. Repeat offenders who have previously been convicted of possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 ft. of a school on 2 or more occasions (5 years).

Maryland Drug King Pin Penalties

If an individual is found to be a “drug kingpin” (an organizer, supervisor, financier, or manager who acts as a co-conspirator in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, dispense, transport in, or bring into the State a controlled dangerous substance), and dealt with more than 50 lbs. of marijuana, then they are guilty of a felony and subject to imprisonment for not less than 20 years and not exceeding 40 years without the possibility of parole and a fine not exceeding $1,000,000.

* Any offender who is in possession of a firearm at the time of arrest, will be charged with trafficking marijuana into Maryland, carrying a sentence of 10 years.

Maryland Marijuana Paraphernalia Penalties

Under Maryland law, paraphernalia includes all equipment and materials used in the use, manufacture, or distribution of marijuana. This includes all agricultural materials used in the growing process, including electronic equipment and typical gardening supplies, such as lights, fertilizer, and top soil. §5-101 also includes under its definition items such as scales, plastic bags, and others used in the distribution process. Hash bubble sacks are paraphernalia. These items are joined by the typical forms of paraphernalia involved in the ingestion of marijuana, including pipes, bongs, and roach clips. Rolling papers and blunt wraps are not included under the statutory definition.

If a person is convicted of selling paraphernalia, then they are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be sentenced, for a first violation, a fine not exceeding $500, and for each subsequent violation, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding $2,000.

If a person is caught in possession of paraphernalia and marijuana, then they are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and a fine not exceeding $1,000.

If an adult delivers drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least 3 years younger than the person, the person is guilty of a separate misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 8 years and a fine not exceeding $15,000.

Advertising the distribution of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor and can be punished, for a first violation, with a fine not exceeding $500, and for each subsequent violation, with imprisonment for not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding $2,000.

This is why it’s important you get a medical marijuana card. So that you don’t get into trouble!

OffensePenaltyIncarcerationMaximum Fine
Possession
Personal Use
10 g. or lessMisdemeanor90 days$500
10 g. – 50 lbs.Misdemeanor1 year$1,000
With Intent to Distribute
Less than 50 lbs.Felony5 years$15,000
More than 50 lbs.Felony5* years$15,000
More than 50 lbs. (Drug kingpin)Felony20 – 40 years$1,000,000
In a school vehicle, or in, on, or within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school.Felony2 – 5 years$40,000
Involving a minorFelony20 years$20,000
* Subsequent offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years.
Trafficking
5 kg. – 45 kg.Felony10 years$10,000
More than 45 kg.Felony25 years$50,000
In possession of a firearm while trafficking.Felony5* – 20 yearsN/A
*Mandatory minimum sentence.
Hash & Concentrates
Penalties for hashish are the same as for marijuana. Please see the marijuana penalties section for further details.
Paraphernalia
Possession of paraphernaliaMisdemeanor1 year$1,000
Selling paraphernaliaMisdemeanor2 years$2,000
To a minor who is at least 3 years younger.Misdemeanor8 years$15,000
Advertising the distribution of paraphernalia.Misdemeanor2 years$2,000
Paraphernalia includes all equipment and materials used in the use, manufacture, or distribution of marijuana.
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