Adult Use Cannabis Now Legal

By Lee J. Eidelberg, Esquire

In November 2022, Maryland voters approved a referendum to legalize marijuana for adult use. Following this, the Maryland Legislature passed the Cannabis Reform Act (H.B. 556/S.B. 516) in spring 2023. Governor Wes Moore signed the bill into law on May 3, 2023, thereby establishing its legal effect.

As of July 1, 2023, the sale of adult use cannabis is permitted in Maryland. To regulate this industry, the state imposes a 9% sales and use tax on retail sales of adult use cannabis and cannabis products. It’s worth noting that this tax rate mirrors the rate applied to the sale of alcoholic beverages.

In Maryland, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled hallucinogenic substance. The penalties for possession of marijuana vary based on the amount and purpose of possession. Here is an updated version of the information:

  • Simple Possession (without intent to distribute):
  • Possession of less than 1.5 ounces: There is no penalty for personal use.
  • Civil Offense: Possession of 1.5 ounces to 2.5 ounces: Considered a civil offense with a fine not exceeding $250 for first-time offenders.
    Misdemeanor Offense:
  • Possession of 2.5 ounces to less than 50 pounds: Considered a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year of imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Felony Offense: Possession of 50 pounds or more: Carries a minimum punishment of 5 years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $100,000.

Regarding public consumption of cannabis:

  • Public consumption carries a civil fine of up to $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense.

There are specific provisions for “adult sharing” of cannabis:

“Adult sharing” refers to the sharing of 1.5 ounces of cannabis, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, or cannabis products containing THC in amounts up to 750mg between individuals who are 21 years of age or older without remuneration.

However, “adult sharing” does not include situations where marijuana is given away along with another reciprocal transaction between the same parties, where a gift of marijuana is offered or advertised in conjunction with the sale of goods or services, or where a gift of marijuana is contingent upon a separate reciprocal transaction for goods or services.

Please note that laws and regulations are subject to change over time, and it’s always a good idea to consult the most current legal sources or seek professional advice for accurate and up-to-date information.