How Did Maryland Legalize Medical Marijuana?

In 2014, medical cannabis was legalized in the state with the passage of House Bill 881, which established the Natalie M. La Prade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). The program became fully operational in 2017, and now, medical cannabis patients with qualifying conditions can legally obtain the treatment they need.

However, the battle for medical marijuana in the Old Line State has been lengthy and difficult. Prior to the establishment of the MMCC, activists and politicians collaborated to push for legalization.

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The Fight for Medical Marijuana in Maryland

Maryland has seen a notoriously high number of marijuana arrests, having the fifth-highest cannabis possession arrest rate in the country during 2010. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), marijuana possession comprised approximately 50% of all drug arrests in the state.

The ACLU report also states:

  • Arrests for marijuana possession in Maryland rose by 34% between 2001 and 2010.
  • Maryland spent $106 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010.
  • Maryland arrested 409 people out of every 100,000 residents for marijuana possession in 2010 alone.
  • Maryland’s per capita spending for marijuana possession arrests was the third-highest in the country in 2010.

These statistics provide a clear picture of Maryland’s position on cannabis prior to 2014. The anti-marijuana legislation that contributed to these statistics changed in 2014, with the passage of two important cannabis laws: House Bill 881 and Jake’s Law, which decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis.

House Bill 881 established the MMCC, along with rules for the cultivation, possession, sale, and consumption of medical cannabis. Although the legislation was passed in 2014, Maryland did not begin selling medical marijuana until December 2017. Recreational marijuana use remains illegal.

Who Is Natalie M. LaPrade?

The MMCC is named after Natalie LaPrade, the mother of Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn. Delegate Glenn was a key leader in the push for medical cannabis legalization, and a leading sponsor of its legislation.

Mrs. LaPrade was born in Virginia in 1923, and moved to Baltimore to raise her family. She instilled the values of public service and helping others in each of her children, including Delegate Glenn. At the age of 87, Mrs. LaPrade passed away from kidney cancer.

Delegate Glenn believed medical marijuana would have significantly relieved her mother’s pain during her last weeks of life. To respect Mrs. LaPrade’s memory, the MMCC was named in her honor.

Do You Need Medical Marijuana in Maryland?

For years, medical cannabis activists have fought for the legalization of this treatment in Maryland -- and won. If you have a qualifying condition and believe you would benefit from medical marijuana, you can submit an application to the MMCC.

Navigating this process can seem difficult at first, but the Sanctuary can help. We can connect you with an MMCC-registered physician who can evaluate your condition and issue you the proper certification for a cannabis card.

Contact us today at (240) 232-6645 to schedule your physician evaluation. Our friendly staff are available to answer any questions you may have.