Understanding Maryland medical marijuana laws can be difficult and confusing because legal documents are often hard to understand. As a patient you want to know what your legal rights and responsibilities are. You probably also want to understand what the consequences may be if you were to violate those laws. For instance, you probably want to know how much medical marijuana you may possess at one time. You are probably also interested in how often you need to see your MMJ provider and what dispensary options are available to patients. Once you know these details, you can speak with one of our Maryland medical marijuana providers about how medical cannabis may benefit you and how you can obtain your medical card.
In 2014, medical cannabis was legalized in the state with the passage of House Bill 881, which established the Natalie M. La Prade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). The program became fully operational in 2017, and now, medical cannabis patients with qualifying conditions can legally obtain the treatment they need.
As informed patients, we need to keep up on changes in the legislation that affect our access to product, routes we can use to administer MMJ, and where the line is drawn between legal administration of medication and a violation of the law.
Do You Qualify?
First, you need to determine if you qualify under Maryland medical marijuana laws to register with the MMCC. As with any medication, you’ll need a reason to take medical cannabis. If you are a Maryland resident (with proof of residency) and have at least one of the following conditions diagnosed by a doctor, chiropractor, or medical professional, you qualify:
- Wasting syndrome
- Severe pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Chronic pain
Individuals may also qualify for a condition that is severe, for which other medical treatments have been ineffective, and if the symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by the medical use of cannabis. And they are also eligible if their condition is a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that results in a patient being admitted into hospice or receiving palliative care.
How to Obtain a Medical Card
Maryland state law requires each medical cannabis patient to register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission through a quick and easy online portal. The registration process with the state costs $50 and asks questions about your qualifying condition. It also requires the submission of a photo like what would be used for a passport for your state issued medical cannabis card.
Once you have an approved application with the state you will be given a patient ID number. With this number you can then be seen by a Maryland certified medical cannabis provider. This provider will look through your medical history and other documentation to certify you to be issued a Maryland medical cannabis card.
Many of these providers operate out of clinics specifically established to meet the needs of MMJ patients. Since most medical insurance will not pay for medical marijuana-related expenses, patients need to be prepared to pay out of pocket for their visit. It is important to not only find a doctor you can afford, since prices vary widely, but also one you can work with to meet your personal needs and goals. Once you have been certified by a provider you can then access one of the state’s over 100 medical dispensaries.
How Much Can I Buy?
The standard amount certification issued by a provider for a patient identifies the quantity of dried flower or THC that the patient can purchase in each 30-day period. The standard amount is 120 grams of dried flower or 36 grams of a THC product, however, a provider may certify a patient for more or less than the standard amount.
And to be clear, the amount available for purchase is calculated on a rolling 30-day cycle. That is, the amount that a patient may purchase on any given day is calculated as the certified amount minus the total of all purchases made within the last 30 days. The 30-day cycle is not based on the calendar month.
What if I Buy Both Dried Flower and Processed Products?
There are two limits identified on a certification – one for dried flower and one for THC in processed products. These limits are a combined limit, not two individual limits. That is, a patient may purchase the limit of dried flower OR the limit of THC in processed products in a 30-day period, not both.
If a patient purchases both dried flower and processed product within a 30-day period, the total amount of dried flower and THC available to purchase is reduced by the percentage of product already purchased.
For example, if a patient has purchased 50% of his or her limit of dried flower and 15% of his or her limit of THC, then he or she has purchased 65% of his or her limit (50 + 15 = 65). Therefore, the patient can purchase 35% of either the dried flower limit, or the THC limit.
Where Do The Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws Allow Me To Travel?
Maryland medical marijuana laws allow a medical cannabis patient can travel anywhere throughout the state with their medical marijuana. This means that you can go nearly everywhere in the state with your medical marijuana with a few important and notable exceptions.
The primary exception is on to any federal government property when in possession of cannabis. Possession of cannabis is still a violation of federal law and this means you cannot possess it in federal building or on federal property. One important area to remember for many Marylanders is the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or Maryland 295. Parts of 295 are considered federal parkland and maintained by the National Park Service. This means possessing medical cannabis on this portion of the highway would be in violation of federal law and would still be illegal.
It is also important to note that you can not legally take your medical cannabis out of the state of Maryland. This means that you need to be aware that taking cannabis across State lines is still a federal offense. Unfortunately, the State of Maryland laws cannot authorize you to travel to other states, jurisdictions, or countries with this medicine in your possession.
What Other Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws Apply To Me As A Patient?
- Patients may not knowingly misrepresent the presence or severity of their medical conditions to obtain medical marijuana.
- Patients may not purchase MMJ for someone else unless they are that person’s caregiver.
- Patients are not allowed to cultivate their own marijuana.
- Patients must show their MMJ cards to a law enforcement officer when requested to do so.
- Driving under the influence of medical marijuana, or when intoxicated by it, is punishable by the same laws that apply to drunk or otherwise impaired driving.
Maryland medical cannabis laws are constantly evolving, so staying current on the rules as they apply to patients is important. You can speak to your Maryland cannabis provider or refer to the MMCC website if you have further questions or concerns regarding patient rights and responsibilities.