In the state of Maryland, recreational weed is still not legal. The sale and possession of cannabis could still result in a prison sentence, and the same goes for growing. However, Maryland is far from being one of the stricter American states where cannabis is concerned. Some steps have been taken to reduce punishment for minor offenses, rather than taking a hard line stance on the issue.
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Decriminalized Weed In Maryland
Statistics from 2010 showed Maryland to have one of the highest cannabis-related crime rates in the US. In that year, an astonishing 49.9% of drug arrests in the state were cannabis-related. In response to these alarming arrest statistics, the Maryland government decided to introduce the decriminalization of small amounts of personal recreational cannabis. This was done by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2014.
If you are found carrying 10g of weed or less, you won’t immediately be fined $500 or thrown into prison, but will simply receive a civil citation, much like a parking ticket. First-time offenders will be slapped with a $100 fine. The second time it goes up to $250, and after that as high as $500. Hopefully, this change in the legal system is telling of a new understanding rising to the surface. Throwing small-time offenders straight into prison is a great way to produce hardened criminals but not ideal for reformation purposes, who knew?
Is Weed Legal In Delaware?
Medicinal Marijuana In Maryland
Despite recreational weed use still not being legal, Maryland has for a number of years enjoyed legalized medicinal cannabis. Since 2017, patients in Maryland are able to access a 30-day prescription of medicinal weed. Patients cannot be in possession of more than 120g, unless they have a note from their doctor stating that 120g isn’t sufficient. There is no purchasing limit for a single visit to the dispensary, but patients are not allowed to purchase more than their prescription dictates in one month. As well as flower, Maryland patients can access THC extracts too. This monthly limit has been set at 36 grams.
At the end of 2018, there were over 70 medical dispensaries in Maryland, and over 60,000 medical patients. Both these numbers have increased since then. In fact, on any given day there are usually between 100 to 500 people applying for a medical marijuana card. In the first year of the program, the state saw over $100 million in sales.
Currently, cannabis is available for patients suffering from the following illnesses or disorders:
- Chronic Pain
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome – weakness/wasting of the body from severe chronic illness)
- Severe Nausea
- Loss of Appetite
It will of course also be considered for any other severe illnesses that don’t appear to respond to alternative medications and treatments.
Growing Weed In Maryland
As far as growing weed in Maryland goes, it is also not legal. Whether medicinal or recreational, private citizens are not permitted to grow their own weed. However, in 2016 it was decided that seats of higher learning, no pun intended, were allowed to grow cannabis for research purposes.
This step forward subsequently led to the passing of House Bill 698 which began the Maryland Industrial Hemp Research Program. All of these steps forward are extremely encouraging, as the more governments understand cannabis, the less likely they are to consider it dangerous enough to remain illegal.
The Future For Cannabis In Maryland
This coming year there were discussions about whether or not Maryland was going to consider legalizing cannabis altogether. Unfortunately, hopes for a 2020 legalization are not high, but recent polls have discovered that at least 57% of the state is fully in favor. These things do take time as governments figure out tax rates, distribution, quality control, and a myriad of other factors. Though 2020 doesn’t look bright there are rumblings that 2021 will be the year for legalization in Maryland.
Various work groups, politicians and lawmakers are in support of legalizing weed for recreational use. Of course there are many that oppose it, but currently support for full legalization outweighs support against. The message that these groups are consistently stating is that they want to get legalization right.
Maryland has an advantage over the trail-blazer states for cannabis reform. They have the chance to look at what works in those states, and more importantly what doesn’t. It seems that for now, they are taking advantage of this knowledge, and are slowly trying to figure out a system that will work best for everybody in the state. Stay tuned to those in Maryland wanting legal weed.