Maryland Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS MARYLAND'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Maryland opened its doors to the medical cannabis industry in 2013, when Governor O’Malley signed legislation approving and creating a medical cannabis program. After a five year delay, medical cannabis sales began in 2017 and have continued to grow at an accelerated pace. Registered patients have grown from 8,500 in 2017 to over 70,000 registered patients in 2019. Today, Maryland has 92 operating dispensaries with an additional ten licenses working through the second stage of the approval process which entails compliance inspections, zoning approvals and background checks. Although recreational legalization is unlikely because lawmakers say they are still in “investigation mode,” the medical market has proven that Maryland is a place where cannabis businesses can thrive. Sales in 2019 at $252 million surpassed 2018’s $109 million by an astonishing $143 million. With 1.6% of the population participating in the medical cannabis program, average patient sales are just shy of $350 proving cannabis is a worthwhile and essential product for Maryland's medical cannabis patients.
WHAT ARE MARYLAND'S CANNABIS LAWS?
Passed through legislation in 2013, Maryland's medical cannabis program allows physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse midwives the authority to recommend medical cannabis to patients. With their recommendation, patients may register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to access medical cannabis as medicine. Patients are allowed to possess up to 120 grams or more with a physician's recommendation for a higher quantity. Medical patients are prohibited to grow cannabis plants at home. Maryland’s medical cannabis program currently operates under the laws found here.
Most recently, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill and moved to senate vote on broadening decriminalization efforts. If passed, the bill will make the possession of up to a one ounce not punishable by jail time. Currently, the law states that possession of more than ten grams is punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Additionally, the new law would stipulate up to one ounce on a person’s possession could not be used to charge an individual with the intent to distribute.
In an effort to bring relief to those previously charged with marijuana offenses, lawmakers approved HB 83 in legislature adjourned for its 2020 session. Under the law, cannabis charges in which possession was the only charge in the case would be shielded from having a person’s records publicized.
WHAT IS MARYLAND'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
Unfortunately, the application window for medical cannabis business licenses has closed in Maryland. The last licensing round in 2019 gave opportunities for 14 new growing and processing facilities, of which 160 applicants applied. The high volume of applicants proves Maryland’s residents are eager to expand the cannabis market and indicates Maryland will remain a major contender in the cannabis market as legalization progresses.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN MARYLAND?
When Maryland legalized medical cannabis in 2013 it had a slow start with a delay of five years before business operations and sales began in 2017. The licensing process initiated in 2016 arose with conflict and lawsuits stating the awarded facilities were done so because of political ties rather than fair rankings. At the time, the state reviewed over 150 grower and 124 processing applications and awarded 15 licenses to each category. In the early years of the program, only 1% of the state's physicians were registered to participate in the medical cannabis program.
Recreational legalization efforts continue in Maryland despite past struggles to pass legislation. In 2017, multiple Democrat Delegates introduced a state bill that would allow adults 21 years of age and older the ability to purchase and possess legal cannabis, and grow up to six plants per person. Although the legislation didn’t pass, momentum continued in 2019 when the General Assembly created a task force dedicated to the issue titled the Marijuana Legalization Workgroup. The task force is dedicated to finding the best possible routes to provide legal cannabis access throughout the state. Although the task force has determined legalization will not happen in 2020, it continues to work towards legalization and is on track for serious consideration in 2021.
DOES MARYLAND HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE MARYLAND CANNABIS MARKET?
With 2021 quickly approaching, now is the time to begin learning the process of instituting and operating a cannabis business. After assisting clients through the medical cannabis application process in Maryland, Point7 is excited to bring our skill sets back to Maryland to aid potential operators with the recreational licensing applications hopefully in the near future. Contact us today to discuss the preliminary steps you could be taking now to better prepare yourself for when legalization passes and the application process opens.