Zen Leaf Dispensaries
Please select your state:
Exit Website

By entering and using this website, you agree to be bound by the Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.

Skip to content

The State of Cannabis in Maryland

By Danyal Swan June 9, 2023
All You Need to Know About Cannabis in Maryland

The state of adult-use cannabis in Maryland is undergoing substantial changes in 2023. With the laws surrounding cannabis changing frequently—and especially as they are so different from state to state—it can be difficult to keep up.

Our informative guide is designed to put things in plain English and help you understand the latest state laws and regulations regarding the sale and use of cannabis in Maryland.

This is a seemingly simple question that is more complex than you’d think. It can potentially be answered in several ways, depending on how you define "legalization." Maryland joins a number of other states, including Michigan, where recreational cannabis was legalized by a public ballot measure rather than legislation or executive order. The people of Maryland approved adult-use cannabis in the November 2022 general election, and the official launch occurred on July 1, 2023.

Outside of adult-use legalization and decriminalization, a third way to answer this question exists: medicinal cannabis has been legal in Maryland since 2014. That year, the passage of House Bill 881 established the Natalie M. La Prade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). Maryland’s medicinal cannabis laws are not expected to see any direct changes because of the 2023 changes concerning recreational or adult use, though both programs are now under the supervision of the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA).

What Are the Current Marijuana Laws in Maryland?

As of February 2023, Maryland's cannabis laws are in something of an odd transition period, as described above. While adult-use cannabis was legalized by popular vote in November of 2022, legalization won't occur until July of this year, though medical cannabis remains legal.

Before July 1, 2023

Those caught with cannabis on their person can still face the following fines and charges until July 1:

  • Up to 1.5 oz of cannabis—civil offense, $100 fine
  • 1.5 to 2.5 oz of cannabis—civil offense, up to $250 fine
  • 2.5 oz of cannabis or more—misdemeanor crime, up to 6 months jail time, up to $1,000 fine

Between now and July 1, the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland Cannabis Administration will be tasked with the important work of:

  • Creating the necessary infrastructure (technology, personnel, and workflows) to appropriately license and effectively regulate cannabis dispensaries
  • Granting licenses to the state’s first dispensaries and growers
  • Finalizing the regulatory processes for adult-use cannabis

Maryland cannabis users with an active medical card can continue to get their medicine as normal during this transition period for adult use cannabis laws.

On and After July 1, 2023

As of July 1 "recreational adult-use cannabis" certainly doesn’t mean a cannabis free-for-all. As in every other legalized state, cannabis consumers in Maryland will be subject to stringent rules regarding the purchase and use of products containing THC. At a glance, the most important components of Maryland's upcoming adult-use laws state that:

  • Cannabis sales and use are only for those 21 or older
  • The maximum amount of cannabis someone may possess for personal use is 1.5 oz
  • Maryland’s active medical marijuana program will remain in place

As part of the changes in cannabis law, Maryland will also be expunging minor possession crimes involving cannabis in amounts smaller than 10 grams. This move has been broadly applauded by prison  reform and racial justice advocates throughout the state. The policy is viewed as an effective first step toward developing a Maryland cannabis policy that is focused on equity.

Cannabis Legalization in Maryland: A Timeline

Zen Leaf Elkridge Grand Opening
Our Zen Leaf Elkridge Grand Opening

Like most states that have moved towards full legalization, Maryland’s recent history with cannabis can be viewed in several phases.

Before the 2010s

Prior to 2010, Maryland had the fifth-highest arrest rate for cannabis possession in the nation. Cannabis was at the root of nearly half of all drug-related arrests in the state. To make matters worse, the state was spending over $100 million annually to enforce marijuana possession laws, making the state’s per-capita spending for cannabis arrests the third highest in the country.


In 2014, the Maryland state legislature passed HB881, which legalized cannabis for medicinal use. The bill also established the Natalie M. La Prade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). The move enabled patients with a host of medical conditions to procure legal medicinal cannabis from approved dispensaries. 


More legislation was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2016. SB517 made important strides toward legalization and normalization by decriminalizing some accessories like pipes and rolling paper. Infractions like smoking cannabis in public were also reduced from misdemeanor crimes to civil offenses carrying a maximum fine of $500.


Maryland’s medical cannabis program officially rolled out in 2017. Though it took nearly two years for medicinal cannabis to be implemented in the state, Maryland patients applauded their newly found access to quality cannabis.


Within the first two years, Maryland’s medical marijuana program saw over 50,000 registered cannabis patients. The state licensed almost 100 medical dispensaries within the state and achieved retail sales of a quarter billion dollars annually. The Maryland General assembly formed a Marijuana Legalization Workgroup task force to explore the possibility of legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use.


Delegate Jazz Lewis introduced HB32 to the state legislature. This bill promised to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis and expunge certain cannabis-related convictions. The legalization movement suffered a temporary setback when the bill did not make it out of committee and was, therefore, never even voted on by the legislature.


A different tactic was taken with HB1 (i.e., "House Bill 1" or the very first bill of the 2022 session). The passage of HB1 did not legalize cannabis but put adult recreational use on the ballot so that the issue could be decided by the voters in the 2022 election cycle. In the November 2022 general elections, cannabis legalization was passed with a strong majority of around 65% of voters.


Some penalties for cannabis use will be further rolled back during the initial transition period taking place while the legal and regulatory framework for retail cannabis sales is finalized by the state government. On May 3, 2023, the Cannabis Reform Act was signed into law, establishing the structure for recreational cannabis in the state, followed by the creation of emergency rules on May 25, 2023, that stipulated guidelines for dispensaries. As of July 1, 2023, adult-use recreational cannabis is legal. The people of Maryland are able to purchase high-quality, lab-tested cannabis products at retail dispensaries statewide.

Maryland Cannabis FAQs

With the laws changing so swiftly and significantly, it's no wonder people have so many questions about Maryland's cannabis laws. Here are answers to some of the most common adult-use cannabis questions in Maryland.

The Benefits of Legalizing Cannabis

Zen Leaf Dispensaries: Your Source for Cannabis Info

Zen Leaf Dispensaries in Maryland

As of July 1, 2023, adult-use recreational cannabis is available for adults aged 21+ throughout the state of Maryland - a day we at Zen Leaf have eagerly awaited. Our medical patients have had access to the state's top marijuana brands, and now, recreational consumers can get a taste of lab-tested, quality options as well. Shop adult-use and medical cannabis at:

Whether you’re a medical or recreational shopper, we hope to help you find your perfect strain at one of our dispensaries soon.

Not in Maryland? Use our store locator to find your nearest Zen Leaf dispensary!

*This post was originally published on March 12, 2023, and updated on June 9, 2023, to reflect emergency rules established for the MCA, and July 5, 2023 to reflect the current status of cannabis in the state.


  1. Legalization of Non-Medical Cannabis. (n.d.). Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. https://mmcc.maryland.gov/Pages/Legalization-of-Non-Medical-Cannabis.aspx
  2. Legislation - HB0088. (2021, April 14). Maryland. https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/hb0088?ys=2021RS 

Digital Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

Related articles

Illinois has remained on the front line of cannabis legalization. Learn all you need to know for cannabis use in the Prairie State.

While recreational cannabis is currently illegal in Arkansas, many individuals can still consume medical cannabis with certain requirements.

What are the laws regarding cannabis in Pennsylvania? Learn all about the state of cannabis in Pennsylvania.