Maryland Legal Information
Maryland’s first legal protections for patients were established in 2003 with HB 702, the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act, which created an affirmative defense for patients possessing less than one ounce of marijuana that reduced convictions to a misdemeanor offense with a maximum $100 fine. In 2011, Maryland passed SB 308 to recognize specific medical conditions and remove the misdemeanor penalty, but not the $100 fine. In 2013, HB 180 expanded the affirmative defense to caregivers, while HB 1101 allowed “Academic Medical Centers” to conduct medical cannabis research studies and established the Natalie M. LaParade 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. Registered patients and their designated caregivers will be allowed to obtain and possess up to a 30-day supply of cannabis. Personal cultivation is prohibited. There are no explicit qualifying medical conditions in Maryland under HB 881/SB 923; instead, physicians must apply for permission to write recommendations for conditions they specify, although the Commission may add explicit qualifying conditions via rule making.
The was revised by HB 490 (2015), and regulations went into effect on Sept. 14, 2015. In 2015, Senate Bill 517 was passed, vetoed, and the veto overridden. SB 517 decriminalized the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
In 2016, HB 104 was passed, allowing dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, in addition to physicians, to issue written certifications to qualifying patients.
In This Section
In 2003, Maryland passed the Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act recognizing medical marijuana and establishing a so-called affirmative defense for patients.
A patient must register on the Commission’s website by providing their name, address, date of birth, and uploading a copy of their state-issued ID card. There is no fee to register with the Commission. Once registered, a patient will need their healthcare provider, who is registered with the Commission, to submit a written certification on the Commission website.
Caregivers may be appointed by a patient, and cannot care for more than five qualifying patients. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and may be a family member of the patient. Caregivers will also be required to submit an application through the Commission’s website. A patient may designate up to two persons as caregivers.
Maryland healthcare providers are required to register online with the Commission. Physicians must provide their Maryland physician’s license number and controlled dangerous substance number to complete the form. In addition, physicians must specify the conditions or diseases that they plan to treat, as well as any criteria for including or excluding patients. This form must be renewed every two years.
Unfortunately, patients, caregivers, and providers are still vulnerable to federal and state arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration. They also suffer pervasive discrimination in employment, child custody, housing, public accommodation, education and medical care.