Maryland enacted a state-regulated medical marijuana program in 2012, and it took nearly five years for the program to finally become active on Dec. 1, 2017.
Despite the slow start, the program has grown considerably. Data as of June 2019 show 96,792 patients have registered, in addition to 6,259 registered caregivers and 1,430 registered providers.
The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) runs the program. LaPrade was the mother of Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn, one of the leading sponsors of medical marijuana legislation. LaPrade died of kidney cancer at the age of 87, and Glenn believed that medical marijuana would have eased her mother’s pain in the last months of her life.
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Terminal illness
Applying for Medical Marijuana in Maryland
To obtain medical marijuana in Maryland, register as a patient with the MMCC and pay the $50 fee. Patients then must obtain a written certification from a medical provider. Providers also must be registered with the MMCC. A bona fide provider-patient relationship must exist, and the provider must approve medical cannabis as a treatment option for the patient. Registering a minor patient requires additional forms, one of which requires notarization.
Appointing a Caregiver
Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and must first register and obtain an MMCC caregiver ID card, which costs $50. After the caregiver and the patient are registered, the patient must designate that person as a caregiver as directed via their online account.
Caregivers may purchase medical cannabis from a licensed Maryland dispensary on behalf of patients. Caregivers also may transport the cannabis to patients. A caregiver may serve up to five registered patients at one time. Minors younger than18 must have at least one caregiver, and only parents and legal guardians of minor patients are eligible to serve as their caregivers.
Acquiring Medical Marijuana
After registering, obtaining a valid written certification from a registered provider, and printing a temporary MMCC patient ID card, patients are able to visit licensed Maryland dispensaries to purchase medical cannabis.
Patients are required to present their MMCC ID card when purchasing medical marijuana at a dispensary. Before conducting any transaction, dispensaries must verify the patient’s certification in the MMCC’s database. Patients may purchase up to a 30-day supply of medical cannabis at one time. Physicians determine how much cannabis constitutes a 30-day supply.
Reciprocity for Patients Visiting from Other States
Maryland does not offer reciprocity to out-of-state patients. The Maryland medical cannabis program is for qualified patients registered with the MMCC who have been issued a written certification to obtain medical cannabis by a Maryland-licensed certifying provider. Individuals must be patients in the Maryland program to obtain medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary in the state. Legal protections in the state related to use and possession of cannabis are limited to qualified patients in the program.
Don Jergler is the Regional West Editor for Insurance Journal and a veteran business and real estate reporter. He has contributed coverage for the Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach Register, Los Angeles Times Custom Publishing and a variety of trade publications.