Maryland law allowing recreational marijuana takes effect

Recreational marijuana use became legal for adults in Maryland on Saturday, allowing residents 21 and older to purchase, use, possess and cultivate limited quantities of the substance.

Maryland residents voted for recreational cannabis use in a referendum in November’s election. Democrat Governor Wes Moore signed the Cannabis Reform Act into law in May.

Under the law, adults 21 and older will be allowed to grow up to two plants for their personal use and can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, which will be taxed at 9%, Fox 5 DC reported. Growing cannabis plants previously prompted legal consequences. But this new law lifted that restriction.

While the law now allows residents to buy, use and possess cannabis, its usage is limited to private residences, Maryland Cannabis Administration deputy director Dawn Berkowitz told WJZ. This means public smoking is still not permitted.

‘The purchase limit is the same as the possession limit for personal use. That includes up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis or up to 750 mg of THC,’ Berkowitz said.

Possessing more than 1.5 but less than 2.5 ounces of cannabis could lead to civil fines and possession of more than 2.5 ounces could be considered an intent to distribute that could result in criminal charges, according to Berkowitz.

Convictions for marijuana-related crimes that were made legal under the new law will automatically be expunged, and those serving time for these offenses will be eligible for resentencing. People who were convicted of possession with the intent to distribute can petition the courts for expungement three years after finishing their sentences.

The state will also now permit companies to serve medical cannabis to customers. Nearly 100 dispensaries have been approved by state regulators to convert to dual licensees that will be permitted to serve patients and adult consumers under last year’s ballot measure.

‘We have been thinking for a long time that Americans across the country are going to choose cannabis, and we see 6 million people in Maryland, and we know it’s going to be a large business here,’ Ben Kovler, CEO and Founder of Green Thumb and RISE Dispensary, told Fox 5 DC.

The Maryland Cannabis Administration said last week that it approved 42 cultivators and manufacturers.

‘The Maryland Cannabis Administration, in collaboration with our industry partners, is excited to offer safer, legal, tested cannabis to adults in Maryland beginning on July 1,’ Maryland Cannabis Administration acting director Will Tilburg said in a press release. ‘We encourage adults to be informed about both the parameters of the new law and about safe and responsible cannabis consumption.’

Maryland joins more than 20 other states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

‘We are writing a new chapter in the story of cannabis in America. One that will lift communities harmed by criminalization and build a more competitive and more equitable economy,’ Moore said in a tweet on Saturday.

Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and is prohibited in government buildings and other federal properties.

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