Alternative medical treatments have become increasingly popular in recent years, some with more scientific backing than others. One treatment that may have more validity than many others is medical cannabis, which has become widely accepted across the US.
Cannabis, sometimes called marijuana, can be used to treat any number of conditions, from everyday ailments like acne, anxiety, and insomnia to more serious complications like chronic pain, cancer, and epilepsy. Unlike most prescribed medications, cannabis is a natural, plant-based medicine that works in harmony with your body, alleviating symptoms and improving day-to-day quality of life.
To use cannabis legally in Maryland, you’ll need to become a medical cannabis patient. Medical cannabis has been legal in Maryland since 2013. The program, known as the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), became operational on December 1, 2017.
Medical Cannabis in Maryland
First, ensure you have the appropriate documentation at hand. To qualify for medical cannabis, you will need:
- Photo ID (driver’s permit/license, state ID, or U.S. passport)
- Proof of address (e.g., utility bill, mortgage, rental lease, bank statement) – you must be a resident of Maryland in order to qualify for medical cannabis in Maryland unless you’re an out-of-state patient who is temporarily living and seeking treatment in Maryland
You must register and set up an account with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). If you need a caregiver, that person must be designated at this stage. Once you have registered, you will receive a patient number. This typically takes about 3 weeks to be approved. Once you have your patient number, you can get certified by a medical marijuana doctor, licensed in Maryland. You can get certified for medical cannabis online via telehealth, therefore avoiding time travel to a clinic, and reducing the chances of catching COVID!
Once you’ve been certified, log back into the MMCC website and upload your certificate. You will then have a temporary medical cannabis card, which can be used for up to 90 days, or until you receive a hard copy of your card by mail. Your hard copy card is valid for two years, but you must get recertified by a physician every year.
You must be aged 18 years old or over to qualify for a Maryland medical cannabis card. Applicants under age 18 must have a caregiver. Caregivers for minors must be the child’s parent/s or legal guardian. Applicants who are aged over 18 but cannot easily access medical cannabis may also assign a caregiver. Caregivers must fill out a caregiver application form. Caregivers will receive an identification card of their own.
Conditions Qualifying for Medical Cannabis in Maryland
The following conditions may qualify you for a medical cannabis certificate and card in Maryland:
- Chronic Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Persistent Muscle Spasms
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Severe, Chronic, or Intractable Pain
- Severe Nausea
- Wasting Syndrome
- Severe conditions where other medical treatments have been ineffective
- A medical condition requiring hospice admittance or receiving palliative care
Chronic pain was the most common qualifying condition amongst patients in 2020, according to research conducted by telemedicine platform, Leafwell.
Possession Limits and Cannabis Cultivation Laws in Maryland
You can possess the following amounts with a valid certificate and Maryland medical cannabis card:
- Flower: Up to 120 grams over a 30-day period. A physician may recommend more if necessary.
- Concentrates: Up to 36 grams of THC extract per month.
Please note: edibles are not sold in Maryland dispensaries.
Cultivating cannabis is not legal, even for valid medical cardholders.
Is It Easy to Access Medical Cannabis in Maryland?
The state currently has 102 medical cannabis dispensaries. It is one of the few states on the East Coast where medical cannabis is readily available. Maryland has a far less restrictive medical cannabis program compared to neighboring Delaware or New York. Applicants who are from other states but have residency in Maryland may prefer to register with the MMCC rather than another state’s medical marijuana program.