Maryland House Bill 556 Incorporates Several MMCC Recommendations Regarding the Proposed Home Grow Program
Existing Maryland law prohibits any person, including a qualifying medical patient or caregiver registered with the Maryland Cannabis Commission (“MMCC”), from growing cannabis in a private residence or possessing cannabis from any source other than a licensed dispensary. Last November, voters approved the referendum to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Beginning on July 1, 2023, a person of 21 years or older may lawfully cultivate up to two plants in his or her residence. Under recent legislation, the MMCC was required to provide the Maryland legislature with recommendations regarding the home grow program to authorize medical patients to grow cannabis for personal use. Maryland House Bill 556 (the “Bill”), introduced for the purpose of establishing a regulatory framework for the expanded adult-use market, incorporated some of the MMCC’s recommendations.
- Under Subtitle 3. Medical Use of Cannabis, qualifying medical patients who are at least 21 years and older are permitted to cultivate up to four cannabis plants. The MMCC recommended a cultivation limit of six cannabis plants for qualifying medical patients to be consistent with existing possession limits. However, the Bill adopted a cultivation limit of four cannabis plants for qualifying medical patients who are at least 21 years old. It is important to note that this cultivation limit of four cannabis plants would apply to shared residences with two or more qualifying medical patients. The Bill also specifies that qualifying medical patients under the age of 21 years should comply with the cannabis cultivation requirements established under § 5–601.2 of the Criminal 15 Law Article, which limits adult-use home cultivation to persons 21 and older.
- The MMCC recommended that the General Assembly clarify whether landlords, condominium associations and/or homeowners’ associations may restrict or prohibit home cultivation in individual units or homes. It is important to note that the Bill does not expressly address whether landlords, condominiums and/or homeowners’ associations may impose such restrictions on home cultivation in individual units. However, Section 36-1102 of the Bill specifies that this title may not be construed to authorize an individual to smoke cannabis on a private property that is: (a) rented from a landlord and is subject to a policy that prohibits the smoking of cannabis on the property; or (b) subject to a policy that prohibits the smoking of cannabis on the property of an attached dwelling adopted by either the board of directors of the council of unit owners of a condominium regime or governing body of a homeowners’ association. These restrictions do not apply to qualifying medical patients.
- The MMCC recommended that the General Assembly establish civil penalties for lesser violations of Criminal Law Article §5-601.2 pertaining to home grow. The MMCC recommended an approach to home cultivation violations similar to State’s approach to possession violations, where a small amount over the legal limit may be subject to monetary fines and only a person cultivating a large number of plants may be subject to a misdemeanor and imprisonment. However, the Bill does not seek to implement such an enforcement mechanism.
- The MMCC recommended the General Assembly expressly allow home cultivation outdoors, subject to certain security and public view restrictions. According to the MMCC’s studies, outdoor home cultivation is a popular practice used in adult-use programs across the United States. It eliminates potential air quality issues pertaining to humidity, mold, and carbon monoxide poisoning. It also reduces the use of high-wattage lamps, thereby minimizing the energy costs. The health and safety, sustainability and security of outdoor home cultivation is reflected in its popularity across states with legalized adult-use cannabis programs. The Bill does not expressly authorize or prohibit outdoor home cultivation.
- The MMCC recommended the General Assembly mandate the development of educational materials identifying the health and safety risks of home cultivation and home cultivation best practices to guide patients and consumers. According to the MMCC, factsheets, video tutorials, and more in-depth materials can help explain the laws and rules governing home cultivation, share tips for safe, energy-efficient cultivation, educate the public about the cannabis plant and best practices for home cultivation and promote secure storage and disposal. With respect to home cultivation, the Bill does not expressly mandate the development of such educational materials.
To access a copy of the Bill, visit https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2023RS/bills/hb/hb0556F.pdf. If you would like a call to discuss how these developments may affect you, please contact Jonathan Wachs at 301-575-0302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT JON WACHS
email@example.com | 301.575.0302
As founder of the firm’s Cannabis Law group, Jon Wachs is a recognized resource on issues relating to the evolving relationship between cannabis law and intellectual property protection. He has worked with many operators in the cannabis industry to navigate the rules and processes relating to specific state medical cannabis programs. Mr. Wachs provided essential legal support to obtain required Maryland regulatory approval for the transfer of several licenses affected by a multi-billion dollar business combination. He also facilitated a series of business transactions involving the sale, purchase and combination of integrated cannabis cultivation, processing and dispensary businesses.