Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in Maryland? This page is dedicated to keeping you up to date on the latest news and information relevant to opening a cannabis business in Maryland. This includes helpful insights on what is to come next.
In July 2021, House Speaker Adrienne Jones pledged that the House intends to put marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot. A 10-member legalization workgroup was formed to study the best way to establish the legal framework for the reform. Rep. Luke Clippinger (D), chair of the workgroup, said they will address issues including business licensing, tax policy, and social equity.
The workgroup took the first step toward legalization when they had their first meeting on September 8. Among the topics they discussed were:
- The history of legalization across the country
- Arrangement to work on creating legislation for a regulated marijuana market
- The fast development of Maryland’s legalization movement, several policy considerations, and growing bipartisan support as presented by John Hudak, a Brookings Institution researcher
Legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes did begin to advance during the 2021 legislature session with two separate bills, HB 32 — The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, Inclusion, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Act of 2021, introduced by Delegate Jazz Lewis, and SB 708 — Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, introduced by Senator Brian Feldman. However, no votes were held for either bill. The focus has now shifted to 2022 legalization.
There is increasing support for this initiative from residents and all sides of the political spectrum in the state.
- Results from a Goucher College Poll show that 66 percent of Maryland residents support adult-use marijuana. 77 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Republicans, and 60 percent of independent voters support the legalization of marijuana for adults.
- Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition asserts that taxing and regulating cannabis will produce thousands of jobs and generate millions in tax revenue, advance social justice, keep the sale of cannabis away from schools, and promote public health.
- Pressure to legalize recreational marijuana in Maryland is building regionally, as the state is already lagging behind its neighbors like Virginia, for example.
How big is the opportunity?
William Tilburg, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, noted that Maryland reached $1 billion in medical cannabis sales after its launch in 2017. He commented, “more businesses and more patients” account for this sales surge.
The impact on the state for recreational legalization would be huge. According to BDS Analytics, a cannabis market research firm, legalization may help the state reach its next billion in sales by 2024, with two-thirds of the total sales volume coming from adult-use sales.
Medical Marijuana Program Opportunities
An effort that made Maryland the 21st medical marijuana state was HB 881 (Medical Marijuana – Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission), which Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law on April 14, 2014. The bill intended to create a way for patients to access and utilize cannabis medical treatment. The bill includes:
- Approval of individuals as certifying physicians
- State-licensed production and dispensing of marijuana
- Creation of an application review process
- Appointment of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) to oversee regulation, licensing, registration, inspection, and testing measures
A patient is eligible if a provider recommends treatment with medical cannabis for a qualifying medical condition such as cachexia, anorexia, or another severe chronic medical condition for which other treatments are ineffective. A full list of qualifying conditions is shown here.
Since its inception, the program has grown rapidly to 123,525 patients registered in January 2021 — that is a 42 percent increase from 87,019 people registered in January 2020. The MMCC has issued 22 licensed processors, 22 licensed , and 102 pre-approved dispensaries.
At this time, no new license applications for medicinal marijuana are being accepted. However, here is the information on the requirements to start a Medicinal Marijuana Business in Maryland.
Maryland Medical Cannabis License Types and Fees
- Allowed to grow cannabis in a commercial facility.
- Grower-only license: $6,000 (stage 1: $2,000; stage 2: $4,000) application fee, $125,000 annual license fee
- Grower and dispensary license: $11,000 (stage 1: $3,000; stage 2: $8,000) application fee, $165,000 annual license fee
- Allowed to sell cannabis for medicinal uses to patients and caregivers.
- $5,000 (stage 1: $1,000; stage 2: $4,000) application fee, $40,000 annual license fee
- Allowed to take raw cannabis plant and create new products like concentrates, topicals, and edibles.
- $6,000 (stage 1: $2,000; stage 2: $4,000) application fee, $40,000 annual license fee
Recreational Use Legalization
As mentioned above, the house intends to pass legislation early in 2022 to refer legalization to voters. The working group formed will study various policy issues and changes needed to state law before the referendum bill is introduced. Rep. Clippinger said that members “will establish the legal framework that’s necessary to fully implement the legalization of marijuana and learn from the mistakes that other states have made before us.”
The Workgroup will determine:
- the regulatory, licensing, and oversight structure
- the application process and available number of licenses
- cannabis-related facilities equity in ownership
- social equity programs to make up for those impacted by marijuana-related crimes
- the impact on medical cannabis programs
We anticipate many new events through 2021 to unfold that will affect when and what recreational legalization will look like. By adding yourself to our Maryland Cannabis Mailing List (below), we will keep you updated on all relevant news and not so easy to find news and comments related to Maryland Legalization below. This includes but is not limited to:
- How much will it cost to open a dispensary in Maryland?
- What are the requirements to get a marijuana business license and open a dispensary in Maryland?
- What special programs will be available?
- And more
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