History of Medical Cannabis in Maryland

Maryland's first legal protections for patients were established in 2003 with the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act, which created an affirmative defense for patients possessing less than one ounce of cannabis that reduced convictions to a misdemeanor offense with a maximum $100 fine. Free State lawmakers expanded this work in 2011, when Maryland passed SB 308 to recognize specific medical conditions and remove the misdemeanor possession penalty but maintain the $100 fine. In 2013, Maryland lawmakers secured passage of HB 180 and HB 1101, which expanded the affirmative defense to caregivers, allowed "Academic Medical Centers" to conduct medical cannabis research studies and established the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission to create regulations.

In 2014, the Maryland legislature approved HB 881/SB 923, a comprehensive medical cannabis program that expanded and clarified legal protections for patients, caregivers, and physicians and created a distribution system. Under the law registered patients and their designated caregivers are allowed to obtain and possess a 30-day supply of cannabis, but personal cultivation is prohibited. There are no explicit qualifying conditions in Maryland under HB 881. Instead physicians must apply for permission to write recommendations for conditions they specify, though the Commission may add conditions through rulemaking.

In 2016, Maryland enacted HB 104, legislation expanding the type of healthcare practitioners authorized to recommend cannabis. Under the law dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners may recommend cannabis for treatment in addition to physicians. After nearly four years since the state approved sweeping medical cannabis reforms, patients in Maryland finally had access to medicine through a total of 21 dispensaries in December of 2017.