News & Politics

Maryland Votes to Legalize Marijuana: Here’s What to Know

Starting July 2023, Marylanders can possess up to 1.5 ounces of weed.

Homegrown indoor pot plants and leaves.

Maryland voters voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational marijuana during Tuesday’s election. The amendment to the state constitution will go in effect on July 1, 2023. Until then, recreational marijuana usage will remain illegal but decriminalized.

Starting next summer, adults 21 and older in Maryland will be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, or up to two plants. Marylanders will be allowed to grow it at home, possess it, and smoke it, but they won’t be able to sell it or purchase it just yet. They also won’t be able to smoke it in public.

Maryland joins DC and Virginia where possession is legal and regulated, but, for now, selling and buying remains illegal unless obtained for medical reasons. In April, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 837 to start creating the framework for the regulated sale of recreational marijuana. The sale of weed will require proper licensing, and sale without a license is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to three years of jail time or up to $5,000.

April’s companion legislation has a provision to automatically expunge all cases where cannabis possession was the only charge and allows people who are incarcerated for cannabis possession to petition for resentencing.

President Joe Biden called for marijuana reform in October, noting that Black and Brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates. “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” he said.

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that in 2018, Black people were nearly four times more likely than white people to get arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates.

Maryland was one of five states where recreational marijuana use was on the ballot on Tuesday, along with Missouri, Arkansas, and North and South Dakota. Missouri was the only other state to legalize recreational weed, joining the 19 other states, three territories, and DC.

Editorial Fellow