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What You Need To Know About the Maryland Medical Cannabis Program

Maryland undoubtedly is on the slow path towards legalization and decriminalization of cannabis use, but one thing is certain: it’s still moving in that direction.

Let’s call it the tortoise, not the hare.

The Old Line State got its start in legalizing weed four years ago now, around 2013. At that time Governor Martin O'Malley signed several pieces of legislation in succession that decriminalized marijuana use, most notably passing the "Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission in April 2014 which enabled Maryland patients to obtain legal medical cannabis from certified dispensaries.

Since then, the state’s been busy forming the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, also known as the MMCC, or simply “the Commission.” The purpose of the Commission is to develop policies, procedures, and regulations pertaining to how legalized marijuana will function in Maryland including business processes, standards, and oversight. The Commission’s site already being used by patients, providers, caregivers, and dispensaries, as both a point of information as well as an operating arm in the certification process businesses and users. Soon it will become the centerpiece for managing all patient, business, and provider certification. It should be noted, however, that “MEDICAL CANNABIS IS CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND”, as the Commission clearly states, on its website. Cough, tortoise, cough. It does, however, ensures a public statement will be made as soon as cannabis is fully lawful.

Until then, a lot of people are wondering: Is possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes criminally punishable, still? What are my rights?

StickyGuide is by no means a legal authority, but here is what we know.

At about the same time Governor O’Malley signed House Bill 881, "Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission,” he also signed a series of laws that decriminalized the possession of cannabis all around. Specifically, a new law converted the possession 10 grams or less of recreational marijuana into a civil infraction, as opposed to a criminal infraction, with punishment becoming similar to a traffic ticket. The law took effect in October of that year.

Then, in 2016, the state similarly decriminalized weed paraphernalia and smoking in public, again making infractions punishable as a civil infraction. This means whether you are carrying less than 10 grams of weed, or publically smoking, or holding a bong, you may be ticketed up to $500, but you won’t go to jail.

The degree to which you are or aren’t allowed to hold, or smoke pot, is something a lot of Marylanders might be wondering. Afterall, Maryland has the seventh-highest overall arrest rate for marijuana possession in the United States (New York, Texas, Florida, California, Illinois and Georgia have them beat).

After the full medicinal cannabis plan is rolled out, things will get a lot less confusing for medical marijuana patients. Essentially it will look like there: the state will designate a handful of selected growers, processors, and dispensaries serving the medical marijuana community of registered patients and caregivers. These patients will have written certification regarding their guidance to seek marijuana as a part of their treatment plan from certified physicians who have also registered with the Commission. All handling, shipping, transportation, and purchasing of weed, or weed-infused products and paraphernalia will be documented through the state and maintained for efficiency and safety.

According to the Commission’s site that’ll all be ready by November 2017. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. Until then, bookmark this page and check back often for Maryland medical marijuana updates.

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