Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws Prior to Legalization


Prior to Maryland becoming the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana, it had passed laws that, although favorable to medical marijuana, did not legalize its use. Senate Bill 502 , the "Darrell Putman Bill" (Resolution #0756-2003) was approved in the state senate by a vote of 29-17, signed into law by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. on May 22, 2003, and took effect on Oct. 1, 2003. The law allows defendants being prosecuted for the use or possession of marijuana to introduce evidence of medical necessity and physician approval, to be considered by the court as a mitigating factor. If the court finds that the case involves medical necessity, the maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $100. The law does not protect users of medical marijuana from arrest nor does it establish a registry program.

On May 10, 2011, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed SB 308 , into law. SB 308 removed criminal penalties for medical marijuana patients who meet the specified conditions, but patients are still subject to arrest. The bill provides an affirmative defense for defendants who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition that is "severe and resistant to conventional medicine." The affirmative defense does not apply to defendants who used medical marijuana in public or who were in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana. The bill also created a Work Group to "develop a model program to facilitate patient access to marijuana for medical purposes."

Maryland passed two medical marijuana-related laws in 2013. HB 180 , signed into law by Governor O'Malley on Apr. 9, 2013, provides an affirmative defense to a prosecution for caregivers of medical marijuana patients. HB 1101 , signed into law by Governor O'Malley on May 2, 2013, allows for the investigational use of marijuana for medical purposes by "academic medical centers." The University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins University indicated they would not participate .