Maryland Legalizes Adult-Use Sales, Effective July 1

Effective July 1, 2023, adults 21 and older will be able to possess, consume, and purchase adult-use cannabis throughout Maryland. Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed House Bill 556 on May 3, 2023, after the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate passed the legislation. Upon the governor’s approval, the law replaced the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, a board made up of 13 commissioners that regulated medical cannabis, with the Maryland Cannabis Administration (“MCA”), an autonomous agency. MCA is now working to issue medical cannabis licensees processors with expanded licenses that will permit them to produce and sell cannabis flower, pre-rolls, edibles, and other authorized products to both the medical and recreational markets.
MCA now reports that more than 90 medical dispensaries across the state have received these expanded licenses and will be eligible to sell to the recreational market on July 1.

The law also expands Maryland’s social equity efforts by establishing a new Office of Social Equity, an independent office charged with “promot[ing] and encourag[ing] full participation in the regulated cannabis industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.” The new Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund will direct tax revenues from adult-use sales to community-based initiatives designed to benefit low-income communities.

The law also creates a forum between the regulator and the licensed industry through establishment of the Advisory Board, which will be chaired by the MCA’s executive director. By law, members of the board will be appointed by the governor and include current licensees, experts in cannabis law, science, or policy, and public health experts, among others. Once appointed, the Advisory Board will be empowered to provide recommendations to MCA on policy and regulations.

Although providers currently in the medical cannabis market will be the first to offer adult use products to adult consumers, the new law authorizes the MCA to issue additional grower, processor, and dispensary licenses – including microlicenses for smaller-scale producers. This summer, the MCA and the Office of Social Equity will conduct outreach and provide training for aspirants to the new market.

The 30-day application window for new licenses will open in September 2023.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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