Apr 11, 2023 - News

How Maryland’s weed market will work

Illustration of a gavel, but the handle is a marijuana joint.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Maryland residents will be able to buy weed from legal recreational dispensaries this summer.

Driving the news: Lawmakers on Friday passed the final version of a bill to set up the state’s recreational market. The governor is expected to sign it into law.

Why it matters: The legislation makes Maryland the first state in the region to have a recreational market. D.C. and Virginia allow recreational marijuana use, but Virginia lawmakers failed to legalize recreational sales this year while D.C.’s recreational market operates in a legal gray zone.

Catch up quick: The bill comes after Maryland voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana. The retail market would be in place on July 1.

How it works: Starting this summer, licenses will be issued for different types of recreational sellers:

  • 75 growers, 300 dispensaries, and 200 delivery services.
  • There will also be “micro-licenses,” which would let sellers and growers operate in small spaces with smaller batches.

Of note: Maryland already allows medical dispensaries; those would pay a fee to become medical and recreational dispensaries when the market is up and running. New businesses would be able to get approved then, too.

What’s new: The state will create a new agency to regulate the market. The agency will also be required to set up a cannabis testing lab, which will test products for potency to ensure compliance with the state law.

  • Under the legislation, sales tax will be capped at 9%.
  • On-site consumption of marijuana, like at a cafe or restaurant, will be allowed, but marijuana can’t be smoked in those locations, only eaten.

What we’re watching: In an effort to address how marginalized communities were harmed by the war on drugs, the bill also creates a social equity office to promote retailers from marginalized communities through grant programs.

  • 35% of taxes from sales will go toward the “community reinvestment and repair fund” to support community-based organizations.

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