Maryland Medical Marijuana

SUMMARY: Maryland's legislature passed a medical marijuana affirmative defense law in 2003. This law requires the court to consider a defendant's use of medical marijuana to be a mitigating factor in marijuana-related state prosecution. If the patient, post-arrest, successfully makes the case at trial that his or her use of marijuana is one of medical necessity, then the maximum penalty allowed by law would be a $100 fine.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Maryland Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act, Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §5-601(c)(3)(II) (2003).


Senate Bill 308, signed into law on May 10, 2011, removes fines and criminal penalties for citizens who successfully raise an 'affirmative defense' in court establishing that they possessed limited amounts (one ounce or less) of marijuana for medical purposes. Citizens who cultivate cannabis or who possess larger amounts of marijuana may still raise an affirmative defense at trial and, if successful, will have their sentence mitigated.


House Bill 1101, signed into law on May 2, 2013, establishes an independent, 12-member medical marijuana commission within the state Department of Health. The commission will request applications from Maryland academic medical centers to operate 'medical marijuana compassionate use programs.' Members of the commission will decide which patients will qualify for the programs and will license growers to provide cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The law took effect on October 1, 2013. However, no state-sanctioned research programs are expected to be operational until 2015 or later.


House Bill 881, signed into law on April 14, 2014, seeks to provide for the state-licensed production and dispensing of marijuana to qualified patients who possess a written certification from their physician. The new law took effect on June 1, 2014, and the state will establish a commission to draft rules and regulations overseeing the production and distribution of medical marijuana. However, the licensing program is not anticipated to be up and running until 2015.

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