Becoming a Patient in Maryland

Becoming a Patient Under HB 881

Rules on how to obtain a physician's written recommendation and how to apply to the Commission for a patient ID card are currently being drafted by the Commission. The most recent draft of the regulations (Aug. 14, 2014) is available here. 

Age Limits

HB 881 allows for both adults and minors to become patients enrolled with the Commission. Patients under 18 years of age must have a caregiver in order to register, and only their caregiver may obtain and administer their medicine.

Limitations and Protections under the Law

Patients and caregivers are exempt from arrest and prosecution for conduct allowed under the law, such as purchasing and possessing medical marijuana acquired from a state-licensed dispensary. 

Possession, Growing, and Consumption Limitations

Patients and caregivers may obtain, possess, and administer medical marijuana acquired from a licensed dispensary under the law. Patients and caregivers are not allowed to cultivate medical marijuana for the patient. The law does not impose a specific possession limit, leaving it up to the Commission to determine the possession limits for patients in the state. The only parties that may cultivation medical marijuana are those licensed by the Commission to grow medical marijuana for state-licensed dispensaries. 

Access to Medical Marijuana

No provision is made in Maryland's medical marijuana law for accessibility of medical marijuana to patients. This includes the absence of any mention of growing/dispensing collectives and cooperatives.

Caregivers

Caregivers were added to the affirmative defense in 2013 with the passage of HB 180.

Housing/Employment/Child Custody/Organ Transplants Discrimination Protection

Maryland's medical marijuana law does not include civil discrimination protection in the areas of housing, employment, child custody, and organ transplants.

Reciprocity

Maryland Residents: Maryland currently has no reciprocity agreements with other states to honor Maryland's medical marijuana patients. In states with no medical marijuana program, marijuana use, regardless of a doctor's recommendation, is illegal. Medical marijuana patients may be arrested and charged with civil or criminal offenses in those states.

 

Becoming a Patient Under the Affirmative Defense Law

On May 22, 2003 - Maryland became the ninth state to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed a bill (which went into effect on October 1, 2003), that applies to defendants possessing less than one ounce of marijuana and who can prove they used marijuana out of medical necessity and with a doctor's recommendation. Under Maryland's medical marijuana law, patients are protected from a criminal record and possible imprisonment. The maximum penalty for possession of marijuana by a patient with a valid doctor's recommendation is $100. Ehrlich, the first Republican governor to sign a bill relaxing penalties for medicinal use of marijuana, signed the measure despite intense pressure from the Bush administration to veto it.

Recently, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge John H. Tisdale granted "probation before judgment" to a woman charged with marijuana possession. A letter from the woman's physician proved her medical necessity both to the court and to the assistant state's attorney. The medical marijuana patient was then granted one year of probation and was not fined. Under Maryland law, if she avoids legal trouble for the duration of her probation, the charges will be dropped entirely. If, however, she violates her probation, the maximum penalty for her medical marijuana use remains at $100, with no possible jail time.

 Since Maryland only provides an affirmative defense in court for medical marijuana patients, there is no real process for becoming a patient other than receiving a valid doctor's recommendation. Therefore, there is no registration fee, identification card, or list of eligible medical conditions provided. Additionally, Maryland's medical marijuana law does not state what is considered to be valid written documentation to prove eligibility, or how to find a physician to recommend medical marijuana.

 Age Limits

Age limits are not addressed under Maryland's medical marijuana law. 

Personal Records

Americans for Safe Access strongly urges all patients to keep copies of all paperwork they have related to their status as a medical marijuana patient as proof of legal status. This is meant to protect patients from possible future encounters with law enforcement agents. 

 Limitations and Protections under the Law

Under MCL § 5-601 (2004), in a prosecution for the use or possession of marijuana, the defendant may introduce and the court shall consider as a mitigating factor any evidence of medical necessity. If the court finds that the person used or possessed marijuana because of medical necessity, on conviction of a violation of this section, the maximum penalty that the court may impose on the person is a fine not exceeding $100.

 Additionally, in a prosecution involving drug paraphernalia related to marijuana, the defendant may introduce and the court shall consider as a mitigating factor any evidence of medical necessity.

Possession, Growing, and Consumption Limitations

 Maryland's medical marijuana law only protects patients who possess less than one ounce of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. No additional provisions are given concerning the growing or consumption of marijuana for medical reasons.

 Paraphernalia associated with medical use

Maryland's medical marijuana law further states that: "if the court finds that the person used or possessed drug paraphernalia related to marijuana because of medical necessity, the maximum penalty that the court may impose on the person is a fine not exceeding $100."

Access to Medical Marijuana

No provision is made in Maryland's medical marijuana law for accessibility of medical marijuana to patients. This includes the absence of any mention of growing/dispensing collectives and cooperatives.

Caregivers

Caregivers were added to the affirmative defense in 2013 with the passage of HB 180.

Housing and Employment

Maryland's medical marijuana law does not discuss whether patients are protected from punitive consequences for their conduct as a patient in either their housing or employment situations.

Reciprocity

Maryland Residents: Maryland currently has no reciprocity agreements with other states to honor Maryland's medical marijuana patients. In states with no medical marijuana program, marijuana use, regardless of a doctor's recommendation, is illegal. Medical marijuana patients may be arrested and charged with civil or criminal offenses in those states.

Law Enforcement

Maryland's medical marijuana law is also void of any provisions regarding law enforcement. This includes protections afforded to patients, punitive liability for patients (other than a $100 fine), and state liability regarding medical marijuana.

Confidentiality

The issue of confidentiality is not discussed under Maryland's medical marijuana law.