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Law Maryland MMJ

In WA state everything is pre-packaged. Even a gram of weed! We can’t smell or tell how dried out the weed is. I miss the large jars and see them bag it up. I hope they don’t forget about the medical patients? You are right, one hour definitely isn’t long enough. People in pain and sick waiting in a long line.

The budtenders need to be able to sell everything to everyone over 21. Why separate the customers unless someone doesn’t want to be seen in a cannabis store. In that case make appts for folks.
Oregon had the least disruption to the cannabis customers when they switched over to rec.
We have mostly pre-packed here also. I do patronize my fav dispensary because they do buy bulk from growers that allow it, pack themselves, make their own pre-rolls, and most importantly to me is they are independent and locally owned and didn't sell out to the MJ corps.

We used to have "deli style" where bud was in big jars, they had sniff samples, etc. Eh...COVID did away with that and it really wasn't all that to begin with. Bud just sat there in big bell jars and it typically wasn't the top shelf. Really didn't catch on around here.

I'm now seeing pre-pack from my two fav brands, Curio (MD only thing) and Grassroots. They are putting small Integra Boost packs in the 1/8 jars they sell.

As for why separate lines...well, my understanding is to provide patients with an faster, easier alternative to being in line with the masses.

But they are only requiring edibles and 'trates to be inventoried separately for med patients. Not flower. I don't understand that at all.

Yep...IMO, MD is in for a mess come 1 Jul open of rec on a major holiday weekend. Yippee ki-yay, mofos! haha
 
We have mostly pre-packed here also. I do patronize my fav dispensary because they do buy bulk from growers that allow it, pack themselves, make their own pre-rolls, and most importantly to me is they are independent and locally owned and didn't sell out to the MJ corps.

We used to have "deli style" where bud was in big jars, they had sniff samples, etc. Eh...COVID did away with that and it really wasn't all that to begin with. Bud just sat there in big bell jars and it typically wasn't the top shelf. Really didn't catch on around here.

I'm now seeing pre-pack from my two fav brands, Curio (MD only thing) and Grassroots. They are putting small Integra Boost packs in the 1/8 jars they sell.

As for why separate lines...well, my understanding is to provide patients with an faster, easier alternative to being in line with the masses.

But they are only requiring edibles and 'trates to be inventoried separately for med patients. Not flower. I don't understand that at all.

Yep...IMO, MD is in for a mess come 1 Jul open of rec on a major holiday weekend. Yippee ki-yay, mofos! hah
One issue that Arizona had was a lack of accredited labs to do the testing, and then nobody knew who's job enforcement was . In the beginning none of the weed had to be tested :yikes: , then they passed regulations, but trying to get your weed tested with only a couple labs takes time. Dispensaries ran out of product , and then jacked their prices up. They said the prices would level off and stabilize, but the pricing has gotten higher.
 
When WA state went to rec, beforehand I stocked up big time. Plus dispensaries were having to go out of business because they didn’t get a lisence. I was able to get some really good deals. I had enough flower to last two months. @Baron23 maybe you should stock up to be on the safe side. It might get hard to come by getting your favorite flower :weed::twocents:
 
When WA state went to rec, beforehand I stocked up big time. Plus dispensaries were having to go out of business because they didn’t get a lisence. I was able to get some really good deals. I had enough flower to last two months. @Baron23 maybe you should stock up to be on the safe side. It might get hard to come by getting your favorite flower :weed::twocents:
I did, Carol…yesterday and I have plenty. Thanks.
 
We are 7 days away from full rec and as far as I can tell, MD industry is woefully unprepared for the influx of new customers.

I stocked up a bit and don't plan to go into a dispensary again until at least Sep...let the lunacy die down a bit.

Maryland marijuana laws: What to know about cannabis legalization


MARYLAND (DC News Now) — A big change is coming to Maryland — next month, anyone aged 21 or over will be able to purchase cannabis from dispensaries.

The question appeared on Maryland’s ballots in 2022, and the state voted to legalize recreational cannabis.

Legislation that passed the Maryland General Assembly this year renamed the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Cannabis Commission. It also established the Maryland Cannabis Administration as part of the state government.

What does this change mean for residents? Starting July 1, you will no longer need a medical marijuana card to purchase cannabis from dispensaries in the state. These “adult-use” purchases will have to pay 9% sales tax and are limited based on personal use amount.


If you are over 21 in Maryland, you will be able to have:

  • Up to 1.5 oz of usable cannabis;
  • Up to 12 g of concentrated cannabis;
  • Cannabis products with up to 750 milligrams of Delta 9 THC;
  • Up to two cannabis plants.

More legislation that passed the General Assembly also adjusted penalties surrounding smoking cannabis in public as well as when law enforcement can pull you over or search you.

The fine for smoking in a public place will be reduced — fines for the first offense have a maximum of $50 (down from $250), and the maximum for a second or subsequent offense will be $150 (down from $500).

Police will also no longer be able to stop someone or search them only because of “cannabis-related evidence” — including a smell or suspecting someone has more than the allotted amount. The law also states that if a person has cash near any cannabis, officers will still need more proof to stop or search.
 
Its going to be a greased pig wrestling contest as the rec market opens...with no preparation that I can see locally...on the fourth of July weekend.

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Maryland Marijuana Legalization Takes Effect This Weekend, With Sales Set To Launch As Governor Recommits To Equity Goals


Maryland’s marijuana legalization law officially takes effect on Saturday, with simple possession and personal cultivation set to become legal as the majority of existing medical cannabis dispensaries prepare to open their doors to adult consumers for the first time. Meanwhile, ahead of the launch, the governor is reaffirming his commitment to fostering an industry that puts equity first.
Nearly 100 dispensaries have been approved by state regulators to covert to dual licensees that will be able to serve patients and adult consumers over the age of 21 alike. They will be authorized to sell to both groups starting July 1, when legalization takes effect under a ballot measure approved by voters last year.

Lawmakers have worked expediently to ensure that the industry infrastructure is put into place in tandem with the legalization of simple possession and home cultivation. Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed legislation last month to establish a regulatory framework for cannabis sales to achieve that goal.
At a Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) conference in Maryland on Monday, Moore said that, historically, “cannabis policy has been used as a cudgel to oppress, jail, and discriminate against our fellow citizens, especially people of color—and the war on drugs didn’t just fail, it made us weaker as a nation.”
“But now, we are writing a new chapter in the story of cannabis in America—a chapter focused on equity and economic growth,” he said. “It’s time we moved away from this false choice that says we must pick an economy that is equitable or an economy that is growing—we can, and we will, do both.”

In addition to the 94 medical cannabis dispensaries that have been approved for adult-use sales so far, the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) announced earlier this month that it has approved 38 cultivators and manufacturers to supply the new market.
“In order to operate on or after July 1, 2023, an existing medical cannabis licensee or preapproved entity must pay the conversion fee and convert their license to a standard medical and adult-use license,” MCA said. “Standard cannabis licenses will be valid for five years and will authorize a licensee to grow, process, or dispense both adult-use and medical cannabis. Licenses who choose not to convert may continue to hold their license for resale, but may not operate under the license beginning July 1, 2023.”
Last month, MCA released a first batch of rules for the industry to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR), a key step to stand up the industry before legalization is officially implemented this weekend.

The 41-page rule sets definitions, codifies personal possession limits, lays out responsibilities for regulators, explains licensing protocol—including for social equity applicants, clarifies enforcement authorities and penalties and outlines packaging and labeling requirements.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the state Department of Commerce (DOC) started accepting applications for grants to help existing medical marijuana businesses convert into dual licensees that can serve the adult-use market.
Under the referendum that voters approved in November, legalization of possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis takes effect on Saturday—with an additional removal of criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces.
Adults 21 and older will also be allowed to grow up to two plants for personal use and gift cannabis without remuneration.
Meanwhile, the relatively quick timeline for the launch of commercial sales has put pressure on state official to enact the regulations that have come together over recent weeks.
“Maryland residents, like the majority of Americans, prefer a policy of cannabis legalization and regulation and they are rightly moving away from the failed policies of criminalization and stigmatization,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a blog post last week.
 
Going to be a free for all come 1 Jul. I was in a dispensary yesterday and they have hired a number of folks in anticipation of full rec and they have a place holder on their website for full rec but no actual menu yet. Basically, full rec won't be able to buy the true high test of vapes/edibles/etc....but flower, my personal fav....no limits

"When it comes to concentrated cannabis, a person can buy 12 g., which would include vapes, or a total amount of cannabis products, like chews or gummies, up to 750 mg. Packages of those products are limited at 10 mg. per dose with a maximum of 100 mg. per package."

Let's take a .5 gram vape cartridge. That's 500 mg of product...at 75% THCA for a typical example....that's 375 grams of THC and hence no eligible for full rec. I have zero idea what a full rec cart will look like and apparently neither do the counter help at the dispensaries I've been to lately.

I'm stocked and don't anticipate visiting a Maryland dispensary until at least Sep! haha

How others’ mistakes could help Maryland get Cannabis Legalization right


A state of New York notice posted at a business announces the seizure of “illicit cannabis” at a New York City business as authorities crack down on unlicensed smoke shops on June 16, 2023.​


Maryland may be later than many other states in legalizing cannabis, but those who wrote the state’s laws hope they’ve avoided the problems that have plagued other states: Lack of product, lack of diversity in the industry, and taxes so high that people kept buying on the black market.

Maryland Del. C.T. Wilson will be watching Saturday’s rollout of recreational sales closely. A Democrat from Charles County, he was one of the lead authors of the state law. He wanted to model Maryland’s law on other states, but said: “I literally couldn’t find a good one.”

“It is nerve-wracking, because I spent so much energy developing this, not really having an archetype,” Wilson said. “All we had was a bunch of states that did it wrong.”

Wilson was part of a group of lawmakers who spent months working out the details of how the newly legal industry could work in Maryland. One workgroup of lawmakers started meeting even before the November election, when voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to legalize cannabis.

The finished law carried four names as sponsors — Wilson, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, Sen. Antonio Hayes, Sen. Brian Feldman, all Democrats — but scores of lawmakers all the way up to the presiding officers, House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, had a hand in the law.

Ferguson hopes their work will result in a smooth rollout this week, one that seems like it was always bound to happen this way.

“It was the work of a lot of thoughtful legislators who tried to anticipate consequences,” said Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat. “When things happen that seem inevitable, there are always people who were behind it.”

The lawmakers studied cannabis rollouts in other states, monitoring news reports and talking with colleagues at legislative conferences. They learned what has worked, and what hasn’t, and incorporated those lessons into Maryland’s law.

Here are some of the problems that Maryland hopes to avoid.

Taxes too high​

It’s easy to think of cannabis as a potential cash cow for the state: A way to raise a bunch of money for state services by taxing an optional, recreational “sin” product like cannabis.

But setting the taxes too high can lead cannabis users to continue buying from the same dealers, rather than switching to the legal, regulated market.

In California, for example, the tax rate was so high (and many counties opted out of allowing sales) that as a result, much of the cannabis trade has remained in the illicit black market. The state had to go back last year and cut taxes.

Maryland lawmakers wanted to avoid that situation. Even as they weighed different tax structures, they had a goal of making sure the tax was affordable.

In the end, they settled on a 9% tax on the consumer at the point of purchase, exactly the same as the tax on alcohol. There are no taxes along the production path from plant to processing to finished product. Medical products will remain untaxed.

One idea that was considered was to tax based on the concentration of THC in the various cannabis products. While that would have the health benefit of possibly discouraging the use of more potent products because they’d be pricier, lawmakers ultimately determined it was better to go for an easy-to-understand, easy-to-collect flat tax at the point of purchase.

In the first 12 months of sales, it’s projected that dispensaries will sell $400 million worth of cannabis products, resulting in $36 million from the 9% sales tax charged on customers. Those numbers are expected to grow to $1.6 billion in retail sales by 2027, with $147 million in taxes collected.

Half of the sales tax money is already spoken for: Monitoring and regulating the industry, public health programs, local governments, assisting new businesses in the industry and addressing the needs of communities that have been historically harmed by the war on drugs. The rest will go into the state’s general fund.

The state will also take in application and licensing fees from businesses, which will go to running the state’s cannabis regulatory commission.

No way to buy legally​

Some states have had muddled rules that have made it difficult for users to buy cannabis legally. That ends up being not only bad for the consumer, but also bad for the government that won’t be getting the tax revenues it anticipated.

“To me, it was making sure that product was available, it’s safe and affordable,” said Wilson. “And that’s something we did right off the bat.”

In New York, like California, the illegal market has flourished after legalization, but for different reasons. According to some estimates, there are more than 1,400 illegal pot shops in New York City alone. The number of legal dispensaries in the entire state of New York numbers only in the dozens.

New York recently passed tougher penalties for illegal cannabis sellers, and Gov. Kathy Hochul has touted efforts to crack down on them.

Across the Potomac River in Virginia, lawmakers legalized the personal use of cannabis back in 2021, with plans to have sales up and running in 2024. But the licensing plan has gotten tangled up in political wrangling in the state capital. It’s not clear when Virginia might get its legal industry operational.

The landscape is even more confusing in the District of Columbia, where cannabis became legal after voters supported a ballot initiative in 2014. But because Congress has a say in the affairs of local government in the District, sales and taxation of cannabis have been blocked.

That’s resulted in a weird economy where customers can’t pay for cannabis at a business, but they can receive it as a gift when making a purchase of another item.

To avoid those problems, Maryland lawmakers decided to allow existing medical marijuana businesses to pay a hefty fee to convert to a license that will allow both medical sales and recreational, adult-use sales.

These are businesses that are already inspected, approved and doing the work of getting cannabis to customers — and able to have product available on July 1.

“We did not want to give too much time for the illicit market to really mature and dominate the field,” said Hayes, a Baltimore Democrat. He pointed to New York’s troubles as a lesson learned.

“One reason why we made the conscious decision to allow those with medical licenses to transition ... is to get ahead of that, to make sure that our citizens who are choosing to consume are consuming a safe, regulated product,” he said.

Lack of diversity and equity​

As Maryland lawmakers looked ahead to creating a legal market, they also looked back at the failed war on drugs that incarcerated many — disproportionately Black people in Maryland — for minor drug offenses.

In order to start redressing those wrongs, the state is creating a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund that will distribute a portion of the money from cannabis taxes and licensing fees to community organizations in neighborhoods affected by marijuana arrests. The money must be used for community-based initiatives, and cannot be used for law enforcement.

Hayes said he worked hard to make sure cannabis taxes would be used in “building these communities up.”

Lawmakers also wanted to ensure that a diverse group of investors and companies would get involved in the legal cannabis economy, including women and people of color. They learned a lesson from the start of Maryland’s medical cannabis program, when nearly all of the first licenses went to white-owned and managed companies.

They’ve also looked at states like Illinois, where some licenses were set aside for entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds, but the awarding of licenses was delayed and successful licensees have faced red tape.

While the first several months of sales in Maryland starting July 1 will all be at former medical dispensaries, the state will issue additional licenses in the future with the goal of attracting a diverse group of applicants.

The first group is set aside for “social equity” applicants, who must show that they have lived or gone to school for a certain amount of time in neighborhoods with a disproportionate number of marijuana arrests. Lawmakers are hoping that round of license winners will have racial and economic diversity.

The state has also budgeted $80 million to help the social equity licensees get their businesses operational.

More changes to come​

While Maryland lawmakers are hopeful that their law will work as planned, they acknowledge that it probably won’t be perfect.

They expect to learn from the first few months of cannabis sales and may debate tweaks and changes when they convene their next 90-day General Assembly session in January.

“What I’ve learned — even since we passed this — in states that have already moved forward with legalization, every year there is a new wrinkle in the market,” Ferguson said.
 
I predict a lot of ER visits this weekend from totally greened out people new to legal edibles and high dose concentrates. Lot of greened out people!

Cranking out joints, edibles and more, firms race to meet demand for legal weed

Recreational marijuana use will be legal for adult use in Maryland beginning July 1​


JESSUP — Tucked at the back of an industrial park shared with a spice company, the thick summer air outside Verano’s humming two-story production warehouse smells faintly like cinnamon, cumin and cannabis.

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Inside, cannabis production has tripled.

The plant’s sticky flowers are pressed into joints rolled by machinery, distilled into tinctures, pressurized into vapor cartridges, and cooked into gummies, caramels and a line of edibles — all labeled, as required, with a little red marijuana leaf sticker and the words “THC MARYLAND.”

The massive expansion aims to help meet the surge in demand expected when recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Maryland for people 21 and older on Saturday.

Growers, processors and dispensaries in the medical market formerly provided cannabis to roughly 162,800 patients statewide to treat conditions like chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe nausea from cancer treatment. State officials expect those businesses will gain millions of recreational customers.


Verano, one of Maryland’s first medical cannabis companies, has shut down its on-site dispensary and moved it to Elkridge to make production space to prepare for July 1, when the state becomes the only in the region with a full-fledged adult-use cannabis market.

“Five years ago, this industry didn’t exist,” Verano President Darren Weiss as he played tour guide at the company’s facility in Howard County. “Think what you will about whether or not you’d like to use cannabis. But it’s hard to argue economic development and jobs.”

How do Maryland’s marijuana laws work? A guide to the new rules.

State legislators moved fast to create a regulatory structure for the industry before the July 1 deadline after Marylanders voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational cannabis last November. State lawmakers grappled with stamping out black market sales before they start and reducing racial disparities, deciding to launch the industry with the medical marijuana industry that has been criticized as lacking diversity. A more diverse set of owners are expected to enter the market a year from now, though industry observers acknowledge it will be far more challenging for businesses to break in later.


State regulators estimate the adult-use industry will generate as much as $600 million in first year sales, bring in $54 million in revenue from licensing fees and taxes, with about $19.7 million going to the Cannabis Public Health Fund, Cannabis Business Assistance Fund, Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, and to county and state budgets. Consultants hired to analyze demand for the state estimated Maryland needs at least 300 dispensaries to keep up; the state’s current medical marijuana firms run about 100 storefronts.

On top of the demand from residents, state officials and business leaders expect to see plenty of people crossing state lines to buy weed because nearby states like Pennsylvania and Virginia have either not legalized recreational consumption or have failed to set up a legal market that provides easy legal access to the drug.
“I suspect that Maryland will enjoy its neighbors’ consumption of Maryland’s adult-use products,” said Jeremy Unruh, senior vice president of public and regulatory affairs for PharmaCann, which runs two dispensaries, a processing facility and a grow operation in Maryland as well as marijuana companies in seven other states.

The difference between buying weed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Unruh said the company is expanding floor space in its dispensaries in New Market and Westminster to make room for the flood of customers expected next month. Medical patients will still have priority access, he added, through designated medical-only hours and express lines so that people seeking the drug for medicinal purposes will not have to wait in long lines with casual consumers.

Recreational cannabis users can expect to see a wide array of products on dispensary shelves on Saturday, from dried flower to vape cartridges to a smorgasbord of candy-like edibles.

Roughly 45 percent of flower Verano grows is sold in its cured and dried form, including in pre-rolled joints. The rest goes into products created in Jessup, in a long window-lined room that evokes both Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and a collegiate research lab. Chocolate churns through industrial vats, one milk chocolate, one dark. A chamber the size of a suburban walk-in closet holds canisters of compressed gas used to extract THC.

Weiss said Verano has transitioned from a medical to adult use market in about half a dozen states so far, with demand at the start of the launch showing a two- to five-fold spike before declining and plateauing. His company started ramping up for July’s launch a year ago, before voters’ overwhelming decision to join the 22 other states allowing adult sales.

“We were pretty sure it was going to pass,” Weiss said as he walked among rows and juvenile cannabis plants, stacked in tiered grow shelves and given whimsical names like “Berrylicious,” “Banana Muffins” or “Moonboots.”

The plants’ trademark five-fingered fronds swayed under bright LED lights, run 20-hours a day, and a carefully calibrated airflow meant to optimize growth. “You want to see them see dancing all the time,” Weiss explained.

Verano has ramped up staffing, attending weekly job fairs, as the entire medical marijuana industry prepares to welcome adult-use customers. Maryland lawmakers decided to launch the adult-use market using only companies selling medical marijuana products, concerned that if vetted and successful firms were not open on July 1, a bricks-and-mortar black market like the one proliferating in New York could take hold.

Getting the first-to-market advantage to establish brand loyalty is critical, Weiss said.

“It is one of the most important things in terms of your long-term success,” he said. “The brands that are able to come out early … are going to be the brands that stays around. It’s just not as easy for new brands to come into this market.”

Other business leaders in the industry agree that being first gives existing cannabis businesses an edge, including many that have been part of a trend of out-of-state operators consolidating Maryland’s market. The head start will establish customer loyalties and allow industry pioneers to scoop up the choicest parcels of commercial real estate before newcomers can even begin to build new companies, Unruh said.

“I think it is going to be hard in Maryland for new business to start,” Uhruh said.

But Uhruh said the approach Maryland took to swiftly establish an adult-use market will likely make marijuana easy to access and cheap in the state — two big boons for consumers and for the effort to quash a black market.

Will Tilburg, acting director at the Maryland Cannabis Administration, the regulatory agency tasked with monitoring the industry, said that was exactly the intent of the legislation passed earlier this year.

“The General Assembly was very concerned, I think appropriately so, of what happens when a state legalizes possession and use of something,” he said, “but does not provide access to legal, safe, tested products.”

Another top priority for state leaders was fixing disparities that existed in the medical marijuana industry, which did not have a single Black owner in the first round of licensing despite Black Marylanders making up more than 31 percent of the state’s population. Race was considered in a later round of licensing applications in 2019, which led to 14 minority-owned businesses being authorized for a license — though only half of those authorized businesses have been fully licensed thus far, Tilburg said.

The state will be issuing the first round of new licenses for the recreational market by January. Although state leaders voiced strong support for prioritizing social equity and reducing racial disparities in the industry, the first round of applications will not consider race because of legal obstacles. Instead, regulators will give preference to applications from owners who live or attended school in Zip codes that were disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.

“And then if there’s a disparity study and a problem in the licensing round, then potentially race can be included moving forward,” Tilburg said. “So the state is covering all of its bases.”

Marijuana plants hang to dry at the Verano cultivation facility on June 14. (Minh Connors/The Washington Post)
Weiss said Maryland is an attractive market because of the state’s limited license structure guarantees there won’t be a race to the bottom among companies trying to edge each other out. The effective regulation helps with the certainty a publicly traded company needs.

Marijuana is legal in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Can my employer test me?

“It’s the reason we don’t grow in Colorado or California,” he said, of the limited licensing structure.

States that faltered with their launch of adult-use markets — either through inadvertently letting the black market flourish or otherwise — have generally been unable to right it.

“The way you set up these markets really determine how it goes. Screwing it up, I think, makes it irretrievable. I don’t think California ever recovers. … Once that box is open, it’s really hard to close it again.”

The onslaught of expected revenue from adult-use purchases comes at a critical time for the state’s cannabis industry: the market is coming off tough times, as medical cannabis patients flatlined the industry was flooded with supply, dropping prices and shrinking profit margins.

Weiss stepped into the elevator headed to the second floor, where the company has a hybrid laboratory and kitchen to convert cannabis flower into an array of products. Employees’ decorations from April 20 were still up: glittery cannabis leaves and the sort of banner hung at children’s birthday parties adorned the back wall, with a message that reads: “HAVE A DOPE DAY.”
 

Maryland adult-use marijuana sales eclipse $10 million over July 4 weekend​

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By MJBizDaily Staff
July 5, 2023 - Updated July 5, 2023
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Maryland cannabis retailers reported more than $10 million in sales over the July Fourth weekend, the first in the newly expanded East Coast adult-use marijuana market.
The state’s network of roughly 100 retailers reported $10,429,736 in sales Friday through Sunday, roughly a 162% increase compared with nearly $4 million in sales over the same period a year ago, according to statistics from the Maryland Cannabis Administration.

On July 1, the first day of recreational retail, Maryland operators generated $4,518,377 in sales.
Adult-use sales accounted for $3,558,947, or about 85% of total sales.
The weekend snapshot provides a glimpse into what industry experts predict will be among the strongest recreational cannabis sales market in the nation.

The 2023 MJBiz Factbook projects that adult-use sales in Maryland could reach $275 million this year and $2.1 billion by 2027.
Similar to other recent recreational launches, such as Missouri, Maryland’s limited-license market opened with nearly every existing medical marijuana retailer, cultivator and processor converting their licenses to serve adult-use customers.
 
"Maryland’s cannabis industry is less than two months old"

No, Maryland's full rec industry is less than two months old....med has been in place for a handful of years.

"New restrictions barring searches based on the smell of cannabis are hampering the interdiction of illegal guns, according to Maj. Zachary O’Lare, Prince George’s County Police Department operations commander."

What a load of horseshit. What he is saying is that without MJ stops without probable cause except ill defined "smell", that they won't be able to search for guns for which they also do not have probable cause. Brilliant....and this guy is a Major? FFS

Maryland Lawmakers Preview Amendments To Marijuana Legalization Law For 2024 Session


“I don’t think there’s any possibility we get through the ’24 session without some tweaking on the cannabis. This is not going to be ‘We fixed it and we’ve solved all the issues and we’ll never have a bill on this subject again.’”
By Bryan P. Sears, Maryland Matters
Maryland’s cannabis industry is less than two months old and lawmakers and regulators are already contemplating tweaks in the coming General Assembly session.
Since July, the new recreational adult-use industry has recorded sales of almost $90 million. The expectation is that sales will surpass $1 billion.

Will Tilburg, acting director of the Maryland Cannabis Administration, said the new law—which runs roughly 100 pages—was an attempt to learn from the mistakes of other states that legalized recreational use before Maryland.

“There’s nothing we’ve seen that is raising alarms that needs to be fixed,” said Tilburg. “I think everybody, the governor’s office, Cannabis Administration, ATCC [Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Commission], and the legislators are evaluating everything to see if there’s stuff. ”

But Tilburg and Senate Finance Committee Chair Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George’s) told local leaders at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference that some tweaks are likely when the legislature returns to Annapolis in less than five months.

Tilburg called the new law “comprehensive” but added that “it’s not perfect.”

“I mean, alcohol was legalized 90 years ago with the repeal of prohibition,” said Tilburg. “Every year, there’s a few hundred bills related to the alcohol industry. So, we do expect that this year in the 2024 session and moving forward, we will see additional legislation to tweak this industry.”
Griffith agreed.

“I don’t think there’s any possibility we get through the ’24 session without some tweaking on the cannabis,” Griffith said. “This is not going to be ‘We fixed it and we’ve solved all the issues and we’ll never have a bill on this subject again.’”

Speaking to Maryland Matters, neither Tilburg nor Griffith could immediately offer specifics.

This fall, the state is expected to roll out its first tranche of licenses aimed at bringing racially diverse licensees into the burgeoning industry.
Historically, the state has faced difficulties in finding ways to ensure diverse participation. A first round of licenses in the medical cannabis industry resulted in lawsuits after no minority owners were awarded licenses.

Additionally, law enforcement continues to look for ways to enforce driving under the influence laws in the absence of a roadside test that can determine intoxication in the way that standard breath tests are used in cases involving alcohol.

New restrictions barring searches based on the smell of cannabis are hampering the interdiction of illegal guns, according to Maj. Zachary O’Lare, Prince George’s County Police Department operations commander.

In 2022, the Prince George’s County Police Department reported 1,237 handgun violation arrests. Roughly 40 percent of those were tied to searches in which the odor of cannabis was the probable cause for the search, O’Lare said.

O’Lare said in the six weeks since cannabis was legalized, illegal gun seizures are down 49 percent.
Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough said his department is seeing similar decreases.

In Prince George’s County, O’Lare said the hope is a focus on identifying impaired drivers will increase gun seizures.

Whether or not the legislature takes up the controversial issue of cannabis-related searches remains to be seen.

House Economic Matters Chair Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles) told members of the Maryland Municipal League that he doesn’t expect to consider a lot of cannabis bills in the next session.

“I will be doing one bill on cannabis,” he said. “So please don’t come with all these amazing ideas because it hasn’t gelled yet. We don’t know what’s broken. We’re not going to know by January.”

Wilson, however, left open the door for “an omnibus bill.”

But Griffith acknowledged that enforcement and other nuanced issues could be on the table.

“I do think that where he [Wilson] and I and our committees can come together and reach consensus, if we can get one bill that takes all that into consideration that would be ideal,” said Griffith.

But, she noted, there may also be issues that require consideration of the General Assembly’s tax and judiciary committees as well, complicating consideration of an omnibus bill. “And I’ve never seen a bill assigned to three committees,” she said.
 
"The law allows local governments to reduce the distance requirements. County officials, however, want the authority to increase the distance between dispensaries and keep them farther from places that children frequent."​

Fuck them....this is "distance" isn't enough for them?


"law prohibits dispensaries from being within 500 feet of a school, child care center, playground, public park, recreation center or library, or within 1,000 feet of another dispensary."



Maryland counties seek more control over cannabis businesses


Maryland’s counties are calling for state lawmakers to grant them more control over where cannabis businesses can set up shop.

The state’s cannabis law prohibits dispensaries from being within 500 feet of a school, child care center, playground, public park, recreation center or library, or within 1,000 feet of another dispensary.

The law allows local governments to reduce the distance requirements. County officials, however, want the authority to increase the distance between dispensaries and keep them farther from places that children frequent.

A spokesman for the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), an advocate for the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore city, contended that the state legislature meant to allow counties to increase the required distances, but that the language in the law doesn’t reflect what lawmakers intended.

“The legislative intent was to authorize counties to increase that spacing requirement within reason, but (the law) fails to match the intent,” MACo Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally wrote in an email. “It’s a glaring, obvious fix waiting to happen if they choose to open the door to doing so.”

State Sen. Melony Griffith and Del. C.T. Wilson, who chair the respective Senate and House of Delegates committees through which the cannabis bill passed before lawmakers cast their final votes, weren’t immediately available for comment when their legislative offices were reached by email.

Sen. Guy Guzzone, who chairs a second Senate committee through which the bill passed, could not be reached for comment by phone call or email.

Days after recreational cannabis use became legal for people 21 years and older on July 1, Prince George’s County Council members proposed restricting cannabis businesses to industrial zones and at least 2,500 feet from schools and daycares, according to a July report from The Washington Post.

The proposal drew backlash from cannabis business owners in the county because it didn’t grandfather in existing establishments.

But, one of the council members sponsoring the proposal said it was a drafting error that existing shops weren’t exempt, The Post reported.

The Prince George’s County Council is on its annual August recess and is scheduled to meet again Sept. 6.

Will Tilburg, acting director of the Maryland Cannabis Administration, which regulates the state’s recreational cannabis businesses, said in an interview that local officials have asked for clarification about the extent to which they can regulate zoning for businesses selling marijuana.

The law states that local governments can establish “reasonable zoning requirements,” but they cannot “unduly burden” a cannabis business.

Tilburg said points of clarification like this are typical when a state is establishing a new industry, particularly with recreational cannabis. It’ll be up to local governments and the legislature to interpret or amend the law, he said.

“It’s something that we’ve seen specifically with cannabis in rollouts across the country, is local governments wanting to maximize their level of control over the siting of businesses, operating hours, those types of things,” said Tilburg.

County governments, Kinnally wrote, are also looking for state lawmakers to change the cannabis market’s “incommensurate revenue sharing,” considering the obligation that counties have to pay their share of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a plan to transform public education systems that includes increasing school funding by $3.8 billion each year over the next decade.

Local governments receive 5% of the tax revenue from cannabis sales, which Kinnally claimed is the “smallest local share of revenue of any state with legal adult-use cannabis.”

With a 9% sales tax on cannabis, local governments receive $0.45 for a purchase of $100 of cannabis, Kinnally wrote. For purchases within municipal boundaries, counties split the local revenue share with the municipality.

“Maybe we’ll get another bite at the tax apple, it’s too soon to tell,” Kinnally wrote.

Publicly, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has lauded the state’s rollout of the adult-use cannabis market, saying the Maryland Cannabis Administration’s work has been “nation-leading.”

Moore, a Democrat, applauded Tilburg’s leadership during a Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday before the governor, the comptroller and the treasurer voted to approve the Maryland Cannabis Administration’s request for $262,000 for leasing lab space in Baltimore.

“In the words of Jay-Z, difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week,” Moore said to Tilburg. “And you’ve been able to roll this thing out in a really, really powerful fashion.”

The board also approved $308,000 for the Department of Commerce to create three positions to help administer loans and grants for cannabis businesses.

The department is set to grant $40 million to cannabis business owners, prioritizing applicants from communities hurt most by historical cannabis criminalization.

The grants are part of the state’s push to ensure the recreational cannabis industry creates opportunities for Black and brown people and other communities targeted in the decades-long war on drugs.
 
And if you don't think "social equity applicants" means black Americans only....I have a bridge to sell you.

"A rose by any other name should smell so sweet".

Like wise, racism by any other name is still an abhorrent violation of civil rights based on...well, race.

Maryland to launch Cannabis Business License Applications in November


The Maryland Cannabis Administration has announced that it will launch the first application round for cannabis business licenses will open on November 13 and will be exclusively for social equity applicants.​


More than 175 standard and micro cannabis grower, processor and dispensary licenses will be available in the first round exclusively for social equity applicants.


The application round will be open from November 13 to December 12.


The Administration has set out its definitions for a social equity applicant, with applicants having to have at least 65% ownership and control held by one or more individuals who lived or went to public school in an area disproportionately impacted by the criminalisation of cannabis to be eligble.


Alternatively, applicants may have attended a four-year institution of higher education in Maryland where at least 40% of enrollees were eligible for a Pell Grant.


Speaking at the time of the announcement, Maryland Cannabis Administration Acting Director Will Tilburg, stated: “Today’s announcement is another step forward in fulfilling Maryland’s commitment to building an equitable and inclusive cannabis industry.


“This application round will more than double the number of cannabis businesses in the State, and each award will be to a verified social equity applicant.”


The Office of Social Equity has also published the ZIP codes and public schools in Maryland that are within a disproportionately impacted area, and the qualifying four-year institutions of higher education.


Applicants that are eligible for the first round of licences will be placed in a randomised lottery based on license type and county or region for which the application was submitted, with the lottery beginning on or before 1 January, 2024.


The second round of applications is expected to launch after 1 May, 2024.
 
I don't usually post about cannabis sales numbers....eh, seems like its more biz than legalization related. Dunno.

I did post this because I do live in MD and its my observation that, while I supported full rec without reservations, there has been a bit of a negative impact of full rec on med. Mostly impact on selection and what art of the market is driving production decisions.

There are a ton of new "brands" of flower and I know damn well that these are not all new growers with new facilities which are very expensive and time consuming to set up. I believe its a bunch of white labeling....like "Willie's Reserve". Willie ain't got no grow facility in MD, some grower is just paying to use the branding. Employees in the dispensaries don't know crap about it....so.

Dab-able concentrates have gone down significantly since the med program first opened and I believe that this reflects preferences of both med and rec. They were hot stuff when the med program first opened but people (incl myself) seem to prefer flower over anything else. That and carts and gummies seem to be selling well.

Couple all of this with industry consolidation by national brands....when licenses were "supposed" to be retained by the MD businesses that won them. That went by the way fast and all in all I sort of found the program more to my liking when it was just med......but, I'm sure that's me just being parochial.


Maryland Adult-Use Marijuana Sales Set Another New Monthly Record In November


Sales of adult-use marijuana in Maryland totaled nearly $56 million in November, yet again setting a consecutive record for monthly commercial cannabis activity since the recreational market opened in July.

Legal marijuana sales overall across the state dropped slightly last month, however, totaling roughly $89.7 million, including $33.7 million in medical marijuana receipts. That’s down from a total of about $90 million in October, and about $2 million less than August’s record overall high of $91.7 million.

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The latest figures, released this week by the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA), also include a breakdown of sales by product category. Just more than half the total amount for November came from sales of “buds” ($48.8 million), followed by concentrate ($21.0 million), infused edibles ($5.3 million), infused non-edible products ($2.9 million) and shake or trim ($542,000). Customers also spent about $10,500 on cannabis plants.

As the state’s adult-use market continues to get off the ground, state regulators last month officially opened the first round of applications for new adult-use marijuana dispensary, cultivation and processing licenses that were reserved exclusively for social equity businesses.

The licensing round, which closed on Tuesday, includes 75 dispensary, 16 grower and 32 processor licenses and will eventually more than double the number of legal retailers in the state. Currently only existing medical marijuana dispensaries that converted to dual licenses are serving adult consumers.

There are caps on the number of licenses that can be awarded per region, with 11 standard dispensary licenses available in Baltimore City, compared to one in Worcester, for example.

MCA previously unveiled an online portal in September that allows people to check their eligibility for a social equity marijuana business license.
In October, MCA issued guidance to existing marijuana operators meant to help minimize the risk of burglaries and other crimes at licensed cannabis businesses amid what they said was an uptick in thefts targeting dispensaries across the state.

A Maryland tax official said earlier this year that the state had to find an unusual workaround with Wells Fargo in order to avoid clearly identifying marijuana tax revenue on financial forms—a policy that prohibitionists subsequently asked a federal prosecutor to investigate.

A separate Maryland law also took effect in July that prevents police from using the odor or possession of marijuana alone as the basis of a search. And another law that went into force making it so the lawful and responsible use of cannabis by parents and guardians cannot be construed by state officials as child “neglect.”
Republican lawmakers, however, are already aiming to undo the law that prevents police from stopping or searching people and vehicles based on the smell of marijuana, claiming the measure has put motorists at risk and taken away an important tool used by law enforcement to seize people’s firearms.
 
"the Rev. Robert L. Screen and his wife were shocked when a car drove past them smelling so strongly of marijuana that they both noticed it even with their windows rolled up." He's either full of shit or he and his wife are actually bloodhounds and not humans.

And lets not forget that black preachers were one of the most significant opponents to cannabis legalization...both med and rec. And why, you may ask. Well, its because they have seen a huge impact to their community from cocaine (in various forms), meth, heroin/fentanyl, aaaaand alcohol.

I get it but I also don't agree that the state's entire population needs to be at risk of undue law enforcement action because a sub-set of a certain demographic has a greater problem alcohol and drugs.

Bu the by, I stopped by a dispensary today and among other things I picked up a couple of tins of pre-rolls (Dogwalkers, they are .35 g of top shelf flower). As I'm driving in my car running other errands, I could smell the cannabis in my glove box. I certainly wasn't high and most certainly wasn't high and driving. So, would that smell give cops authority to strip search my vehicle? If Screen and his ilk get their way it would.

Fuck the drug warriors.

Maryland lawmakers may revisit issue of drivers smelling of Marijuana

Opponents Seek to Overturn Maryland Law Prohibiting Police from Using Marijuana Odor as Probable Cause for Stops and Searches.


When leaving a meeting at Prince George’s Community College one night, the Rev. Robert L. Screen and his wife were shocked when a car drove past them smelling so strongly of marijuana that they both noticed it even with their windows rolled up.


The couple had just left the Md. Route 210 Traffic Safety Committee, an organization that Screen founded when the car drove past. Screen carefully put some distance between him and the other car, as it sped off down the road.


“My wife and I were just taken aback and said, ‘This is the landscape of what we’re going to be dealing with for the future,’ ” Screen said.


Opponents of a law prohibiting police from using the odor of marijuana as probable cause to stop and search a vehicle or person said these problems are just as they predicted when the law went into effect July 1. Now some of those critics plan to return to the legislature in January to ask that it be changed. At the same time, police are trying to figure out exactly what they can do to marijuana-impaired drivers to keep them off the roads.


The Fines for Smoking in Public, Stops, and Searches law was approved during the final minutes of the 2023 session. Several Republicans wanted to explain their votes but House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, D-Baltimore, seeing that the General Assembly session’s time was about to expire, pushed the vote through. Jones’ decision prompted an outburst from Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, and caused most Republicans to walk off the House floor in protest.


The controversy over the law continues and on Nov. 14, when Maryland’s Joint Republican Caucus announced its 2024 Public Safety Agenda for the upcoming legislative session, included was a provision to overturn the smell search law.


House Minority Whip Jesse Pippy, R-Frederick, said the law limits officers’ ability to police impaired driving.


“When the smell of cannabis smoke is billowing out of a moving vehicle, it is very likely that that driver is under the influence,” Pippy said. “Prohibiting law enforcement from stopping said vehicle is like prohibiting an officer from stopping someone who’s chugging a beer while driving.”


But getting the Democratic majority General Assembly to overturn the provision will be difficult. It was approved because it addressed inequality in traffic stops, which disproportionately impact Black Marylanders.


Del. Jheanelle Wilkins, D-Montgomery, chair of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus, and a sponsor of the bill, HB1071, that became the marijuana smell law said the law is essential to protecting the constitutional rights of Marylanders and “it’s unfortunate that our Maryland Republicans will be advocating for warrantless searches of American residents.”


“Passage of HB1071 in 2023 was a top priority for the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland,” Wilkins said. “And so we will vigorously defend this bill and push back against any effort to reverse or weaken it.”


According to the analysis of the bill at the time, Maryland traffic stop data dating back to 2018 revealed that Black drivers made up at least 60% of traffic stops, while representing just 29% of the state’s population. Black drivers in Maryland were also more than four times as likely to be subject to a warrantless vehicle search than white drivers.


“Cannabis is legal in the state, so someone simply smelling like cannabis, whether they’re just walking down the street or whether it’s the smell in their car, it should not trigger a warrantless search,” Wilkins said. “So, protecting Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures is really a foundational aspect of our constitution in our state.”


Another issue with conducting searches over the odor of marijuana is that hemp, which also derives from the cannabis plant but contains a negligible amount of the psychoactive ingredient THC, smells the same when it is burned. Hemp is not a controlled substance in the United States and is often used in CBD products.


Michael Beach, district public defender for Montgomery County, found while working as a public defender in multiple Maryland jurisdictions that in his experience “the use of the odor of marijuana to search vehicles was disproportionately utilized against Black and brown Marylanders.”


“And I would often only see the cases where they found something,” Beach said. “I can only imagine how many cases there would be where they found nothing and the driver had to suffer the indignity of having their car searched out in public in front of everybody on whatever road they’re on.”


According to Yanet Amanuel, public policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, police used the alleged scent of marijuana as a cover to racially profile Black and brown drivers.


“They’ll racially profile somebody and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I smell marijuana,’ and then suddenly … (they) are allowed to conduct a search,” Amanuel said. “And the thing is, you can’t take the odor to court and prove it, it’s just based on whatever the officer says.”


As of Dec. 8, there have been over 100 roadway fatalities, of 571 total road deaths, in Maryland this year where the driver was impaired, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Crash Data Dashboard. Maryland was projected to exceed 600 roadway deaths in 2023 for the first time since 2007. Of the roadway fatalities recorded in 2023, nearly 18% were the result of crashes where a driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.


As of Nov. 16, there have been 4,620 drug-related DUI citations statewide this year, according to law enforcement figures captured through E-Tix Software. It’s unclear how many were marijuana related.


John Seng, founder of the Maryland Coalition for Roadway Safety, said the legalization of recreational marijuana creates new concerns over impaired driving in Maryland.


“I wished the Maryland General Assembly, when it was dealing with the pressure from the public to approve marijuana for recreational purposes, said not, ‘No,’ but, ‘Not now,’ ” Seng said. “Not now until we figure the science out so we can police marijuana use and vehicles.”


It is too early to see the change in fatal crashes caused by the legalization of recreational marijuana, Screen said.


“I think it’s an impending storm that has yet to reveal itself,” Screen said.


A 2022 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada saw changes in the rate of injuries and fatalities due to car crashes after legalizing recreational marijuana and the start of retail sales. Across five states, there was a 5.8% increase in the rate of traffic crash injuries and a 4.1% increase in the rate of fatal crashes.


There are challenges in even determining marijuana intoxication among drivers. With drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, police can administer a Breathalyzer test, but there is no similar test for determining marijuana impairment. One option is a drug recognition expert – a police officer trained to recognize drug impairment.


“DRE may be requested and they will conduct additional testing sequences to determine … what category drug they may be impaired with,” said Ron Snyder, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Police.


Drug recognition experts have been a part of police departments in Maryland since 1990. There are nearly 190 DREs in Maryland in over 30 agencies. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the agency that coordinates the National Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, there is a 12-step process to determine drug impairment. The process includes interviewing the suspect and the arresting officer, sobriety tests analyzing suspects’ movement and eye convergence, assessing the suspect’s behavior, checking suspects’ vital signs and a toxicological examination.


DREs can request a blood test to determine if the driver is under the influence of drugs. According to Snyder, a blood test is only mandatory if a driver has caused bodily injury or fatality, but refusing a test could mean a suspended license.


There is also no legal limit in Maryland for the amount of marijuana in a driver’s blood, as there is with alcohol, and the substance is detectable longer, making charges difficult.


“(Marijuana) can also be stored in the fatty deposits and released later,” Belgin Palaz, an assistant public defender in the forensics division said. “And so … the struggle right now hopefully for the legislature … is how do you assess potential impairment given the way that our bodies process delta-9 THC?”


Wilkins said the law should not impact police officers’ ability to police impaired driving.


“When it comes to the DUI issues that people might be concerned about, if someone’s driving erratically and there’s a smell of cannabis, then this law would not apply,” Wilkins said. “I want to be clear, this bill is saying that cannabis alone does not equate to a warrantless search.”


Critics of the law say it also impacts other crime-fighting measures. Pippy cited concerns about the number of illegal guns that were uncovered during traffic stops where the odor of cannabis was the pretext to a search.


“It is more than the safety of the motoring public that is at stake, now that vehicles cannot be stopped and searched due to the smell of cannabis,” Pippy said. “This prohibition also makes it more difficult to get illegal guns off the streets.”


Wilkins disagreed.


“(The law is) based only on the smell of cannabis. That doesn’t prevent a police officer who witnesses criminal activity from doing their job,” Wilkins said. “But what they cannot do is just smell cannabis and, based on that odor, conduct a warrantless search.”
 
This is fucking incredibly contemptible for at least two reasons:

- If they banned officers from using alcohol, they would have no police force

- The county executive is widely reputed to smoke MJ constantly.

Just more BS from our amazingly incompetent government, IMO.


Maryland Police Chief Stands Up Against State Law that Reduces Number of Eligible Applicants


In Montgomery County, Maryland, law enforcement applicants must cease cannabis use for three years before being hired.​


A police chief in Maryland is standing up against county regulations, which requires that potential law enforcement applicants must abstain from cannabis use for at least three years before they can be considered for hire.


Police Chief Marcus Jones, who is based in Montgomery County, Maryland, told NBC Washington that the law is making it difficult to find new recruits. “I think in today’s environment, where we are with the legalization of cannabis, that has now restricted law enforcement agencies, particularly larger agencies, across the state,” Jones said.


Earl Stoddard, the Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, also commented on the irony of the issue. “Having a legal drug become a barrier to increasing law enforcement seems like it’s a bad policy,” Stodder said. “It’s a big issue now, but it’s going to become an increasingly large issue as more people who have consumed with legalization consider policing, they realize they’re ineligible, that’s when we expect to see a bigger drop-off in applications.”


Jones also leads the Fraternal Order of Police and is a member of the Montgomery County Council. In April 2023, he asked the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to reevaluate its stance on the three-year cannabis rule, and it agreed that it would study for alternatives but hasn’t provided any updates since then.


Once Montgomery County officers are recruited, they are no longer allowed to consume cannabis in any form. However, this isn’t the case in other police departments. In Washington D.C., potential recruits are only required to have abstained from cannabis consumption for at least three months. In Fairfax County, located northwest of Washington D.C., there is no requirement for recruits to abstain from cannabis consumption.


According to NBC Washington, other unnamed “officials” are asking for “more local flexibility on marijuana use in the hiring process.” Currently, Montgomery County law enforcement is trying to fill 175 positions, which is proving to be difficult even with the $20,000 signing bonus for applicants who are eligible. For now, it’s planning to hire an outside firm to help boost recruiting.


Other states, such as New Jersey, have also made efforts to change existing regulations surrounding law enforcement and cannabis.


In February 2023, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin released a revised drug testing policy that alleviates stress on police officers who want to consume cannabis while off duty. “Agencies must undertake drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion to believe a law enforcement officer is engaged in the illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance, or is under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, including unregulated marijuana, or cannabis during work hours,” the text stated.


In 2021, a New Jersey law enforcement officer named Norhan Mansour was fired for testing positive for THC in 2021. The officer’s attorney, Peter Paris, defended the officer’s right to consume off duty in June 2023. “What Jersey City is doing is equivalent to terminating police officers because they had a beer off duty,” Paris said. “Except it’s worse because there is no constitutional right to drink beer, while there is a constitutional right in New Jersey to consume cannabis.” By August, Mansour had his job reinstated.


However, progress took a few steps back in New Jersey in October 2023 when the Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea sued the Attorney General to block law enforcement officers from keeping their jobs if they consume cannabis. The lawsuit claims that anyone who consumes a controlled substance is prohibited from carrying a firearm. “Every citizen in the state of New Jersey has the right to use marijuana,” Shea said. “If one of our officers wants to do that, they could smoke as much as they want—they can no longer perform the duties of a police officer, and we will have to terminate them if we become aware.”


Adult-use cannabis sales began nearly two years ago in New Jersey in April 2022, but Maryland sales didn’t begin until July 2023. During its first week, Maryland collected $20 million in cannabis sales, and as of mid-January, the Maryland Cannabis Administration shows that the state has collected $787.5 million in adult-use sales between July-December 2023. Adult-use cannabis sales collected just $51 million in July, $104 million in August, $159 million in September, $214 million in October, $270 million in November, and $331 million in December.


Maryland medical cannabis sales are slowing down, which is a trend that has played out in other states as well. In July 2023, medical sales reached $285 million, followed by $324 million in August, $360 million in September, $395 million in October, $429 million in November, and $464 million in December.


As of Jan. 18, total year-to-date sales have risen to $796.3 million (which is a combined total of both adult-use and medical cannabis).


The most recent round of adult-use applicants submitted in December 2023 included more than 1,700 applications across all three license categories (cultivation, processing, and retail). According to the Maryland Cannabis Association Acting Director Will Tillburg, the state’s cannabis industry continues to thrive. “The large volume of applications submitted prior to yesterday’s deadline demonstrates the significant interest in the cannabis industry in Maryland,” Tillburg said last month. “It is also a testament to the comprehensive outreach and education efforts made by the administration and our partners at the Office of Social Equity to potential social equity applicants.”
 
Maryland Senators Take Up Bills To Let Police Search Vehicles Based On Marijuana Odor And Protect Gun Rights For Cannabis Patients

Maryland senators took up two GOP-led marijuana bills on Friday: one that would let police search vehicles based on the smell of cannabis and another that’s meant to protect gun rights for medical marijuana patients.

Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee discussed the legislation during a hearing, listening to testimony in support and opposition, but did not vote on the proposals.

Sen. William Folden (R) is sponsoring the bill to authorize law enforcement searches based on marijuana odor, a measure he said attempts to “correct a wrong, an error, that the legislature made” when it passed reform legislation that was enacted last year to specifically prevent such searches given that the state has legalized marijuana.

A New Poll Finds That Floridians Want Legal Marijuana

If the smell of cannabis is emitted from a car, that’s a “strong indicator that person is in violation of law and potentially impaired at the time,” Folden said, adding that “this strong odor is definitely discernible by law enforcement and those in the community.”

Two county prosecutors also testified in favor of the measure. But drug policy reform advocates, including ACLU of Maryland Public Policy Director Yanet Amanuel, defended the current policy that bars police from conducting cannabis odor-based searches.

“The proponents of SB 396
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have said that banning odor stops and searches will impede law enforcement ability to investigate incidents of impaired driving, but that’s simply not true,” she said. “The law makes it explicit that the odor of marijuana can be considered as part of the totality of circumstances to support the officer’s observations of suspected impairment. The odor of marijuana simply cannot be the sole basis for a stop to investigate driving under the influence.”

“What police do is use the alleged odor of marijuana to justify racial profiling,” Amanuel said. “Diligent law enforcement can and should be used to solve crime using honest-based initiatives and techniques without relying on a potential basis such as the odor of marijuana for stopping and searching Black and brown people.”

Last November, the Maryland legislature’s Joint Republican Caucus previewed their push to undo the prohibition on odor-based searches, claiming the law has put motorists at risk and taken away an important tool used by law enforcement to seize people’s firearms.

At Friday’s hearing, members also briefly considered a separate proposal
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from Sen. Mike McKay (R) that would protect the rights of registered medical cannabis patients to buy, own and carry firearms under state law.

The issue has been raised in multiple state legislatures and federal courts in recent years, as marijuana and gun rights advocates challenge the constitutionality of the federal ban that currently prevents cannabis consumers from owning firearms.

Just last month in neighboring Pennsylvania, a district attorney filed suit against the Justice Department over the ban that he says violates the Second Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients such as himself.

The issue was previously raised in the Maryland legislature around this time last year, with the House Judiciary Committee holding a hearing on a separate but related measure to ensure medical marijuana patients’ gun rights are protected.
 

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