ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland is becoming the latest state to legally sell recreational marijuana, as businesses aim to tap into July Fourth festivities to kick off sales.
About 100 stores that already have been licensed to sell cannabis for medicinal purposes will be able to begin selling it recreationally Saturday, more than five years after the state started selling medical marijuana. “This is cannabis’ kind of Independence Day — over Independence Day weekend — and so it’s nice to be able to pull something together that makes it more of a celebratory occasion,” said Brandon Barksdale, co-CEO of Remedy Maryland, which has a superstore in Columbia.
The Maryland law creates a “personal use amount” for people 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, 12 grams of concentrated cannabis or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg THC.
People also can grow marijuana at home, including up to two plants out of public view. Medical patients will be able to cultivate up to four plants at home.
Under the state’s medical cannabis program, nearly 163,000 people were able to buy marijuana. For 21 and older, that market opens up to roughly 4 million residents. State lawmakers created the regulatory framework in this year’s legislative session, after voters approved a constitutional amendment with 67% of the vote to allow recreational cannabis. Nearly half of the states have approved selling marijuana recreationally, though some have yet to establish a marketplace for sales, including neighboring Virginia and Delaware, as well as Minnesota.
“I think once you get to the point that we’re at right now — about the halfway mark — you start to feel a lot of momentum, a lot more trust from consumers, a lot more trust from patients, a lot more trust from investors that have to help fund all of these operations,” said Chantelle Elsner, senior vice president of commercial operations for TerrAscend, which has a cannabis location in Cumberland, with stores expected to open soon in Salisbury and Parkville.
Voters in the District of Columbia have approved recreational cannabis, but Congress has blocked the city from creating a legalized market. Recreational cannabis also isn’t legally sold in any of Maryland’s neighboring states, boosting business owners’ hopes that Maryland’s market will be lucrative. Cannabis products will be subject to a 9% sales tax, which is the same as the state’s tax on alcohol. State regulators have estimated recreational marijuana could generate as much as $600 million in sales for the first year.
Maryland lawmakers also approved legislation this year providing that the odor of cannabis alone is not grounds for a police search and reduces the penalty for public smoking from a $250 fine to a $50 fine for a first offense.
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Written by: Editor