Maryland law legalizing marijuana use, retail sales kicks in Saturday

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Marylanders will blaze their way into a new era Saturday when a state law legalizing marijuana possession and sanctioning a retail cannabis market takes effect.

Roughly four million state residents who are 21 and over will be allowed to have small amounts of marijuana starting July 1.

Consumers will also be able to purchase their favorite flower strand or cannabis edible at one of the nearly 100 medical dispensaries that already have prepared to transition into recreational establishments.

Another 38 cannabis growers and processors are ready to convert into new retail establishments on the day the new law gets enacted, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

It all comes as Maryland’s budding industry anticipates a rush of revelers ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

“It’s going to be extremely busy,” Brandon Barksdale, co-CEO of marijuana dispensary Remedy, which has locations in Columbia and Baltimore County, told WTOP News. “We’re bracing for a huge influx of traffic.”

The law allows adults to have up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that provides the “high.”

Residents can also grow up to two marijuana plants at home as long as they’re out of public view.

What sets Maryland apart is that it has a retail market ready to go, while its neighbors that have also legalized consumption — such as Delaware, Virginia and the District — have struggled to do the same.

“I definitely do think with the states around us not being recreational yet that that’s absolutely going to drive all of the traffic to Maryland,” Brianna Anderson, marketing manager for Gold Leaf in Annapolis, told The Associated Press.

There are limits to new marijuana laws. Anyone possessing between 1.5 to 2.5 ounces is liable to be fined $250. Those who carry more than 2.5 ounces are at risk of facing misdemeanor charges.

Where users can smoke marijuana is mostly confined to private spaces. Certain businesses do have licenses that let customers smoke socially indoors.

But smoking at home isn’t a sure thing.

The Washington Post reported that a District resident won a lawsuit against her apartment neighbor who smoked cannabis nightly for medical reasons. The judge ruled that the defendant “does not possess a license to disrupt the full use and enjoyment of one’s land” with his weed smoking.  

Lawmakers expect recreational marijuana sales to reach $600 million during the first year.

Recreational sales would be taxed at 9%.

A community investment fund would receive 35% of the tax revenue generated by those sales, while a Cannabis Public Health Fund and a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund would each get 5%.

Counties would also get 5% of the revenue generated from sales, while the rest of the sales tax goes to the state’s general revenue.

Any medical dispensaries that haven’t transitioned into recreational dispensaries are still exempt from paying the tax, but those who have made the switch will need to pay the state 8% of their gross revenues from 2022.

— This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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