Maryland is one of the 23 states where medical marijuana is legal, but recreational weed is not. Medical marijuana legislation was signed by Governor O’Malley in May 2013, but the program was delayed for almost five years. Finally, Maryland’s medical marijuana program became operational in December 2017, and it initially authorized 550 healthcare providers, nine dispensaries, 12 processors, and 14 growers.
8,500 patients were certified to purchase weed for medicinal purposes in Maryland at that time. Although recreational cannabis use is not legal, possession of 10 grams or less was decriminalized in 2014. It was a necessary step because Maryland had the fifth highest marijuana possession arrest rate.
It will take many years for there to even be a chance of legal recreational weed, but at least the MMJ card program in Maryland is up and running. Here’s how to get yours.
The Definitive Guide on How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Maryland
Unlike many state marijuana programs, you need to register as a patient in Maryland before you even see a physician. You can register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) online as long as you have one of the qualifying medical conditions (which we outline below). Here is a step-by-step guide to getting your MMJ card in Maryland.
Step 1 – Gather Your Personal Information
Before going to the MMCC website, you will need specific information to proceed:
- The last four digits of your Social Security Number.
- A valid email account that you will use to apply for your MMJ card.
- An electronic copy of a U.S. Government-issued photo ID. Acceptable IDs include Passport, Military ID, and Motor Vehicle Administration ID card or a driver’s license.
- Proof of your address in Maryland.
- An electronic copy of a clear photograph taken within the previous six months. If you are a hospice patient, you can get a letter from the Attending of Hospice on Record instead of a recent photo.
Step 2 – Register With the MMCC
Once you have all the requisite information, go to the official MMCC registry website and click ‘Create Account’ under the ‘Patients’ heading. The application involves answering questions including:
- Are you under the age of 18?
- Are you in hospice care?
You don’t need to provide any medical records at this stage. Once you complete and submit the application, you will receive a verification email. Click on the link to ensure your account becomes verified. Your registration is valid for two years.
Step 3 – Play the Waiting Game
The next part is frustrating because you have to wait for your application to be reviewed by the MMCC. As the program is still relatively new, there is a long waiting list. Although we have heard of patients receiving a follow-up email in five days, a lot of people are forced to wait for the full 45-day period. If you don’t get a follow-up email within that time frame, you need to phone them or send another email; we recommend calling them.
Step 4 – Get Your Written Certification from a Physician Registered by the MMCC
The follow-up email sent by the MMCC contains a patient ID number. It is only at this point that you can visit an MMCC registered physician to receive the valid written certification you need to buy medical marijuana in Maryland. Although you can’t use your family doctor if he/she isn’t on the list, there are hundreds of healthcare providers to choose from. Here is a list of registered providers as at January 2019.
One possible issue is that you need to have a ‘bona fide’ provider-patient relationship with the provider. However, you shouldn’t find it difficult to find a registered provider willing to give you the written certification you require.
Step 5 – Get Your Weed at a Dispensary!
Once you have received a valid written certification from a registered provider, you can visit a licensed dispensary in Maryland to purchase your marijuana. When you visit one of these dispensaries, you will be asked to present your MMCC ID Card. The seller will verify your certification before allowing you to complete the purchase.
If you get certified but fail to purchase marijuana from a licensed dispensary within 120 days, the certification will expire, and you will need to obtain a brand new one. You can purchase a 30-day supply of medical cannabis at one time. As the program has expanded, more dispensaries have opened. Click here to find a list of licensed dispensaries as at December 2018.
What are the Qualifying Conditions Required to get a Medical Marijuana Card in Maryland?
Here is a list of qualifying medical conditions:
- Chronic or severe pain
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Wasting syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Any other chronic and severe medical condition where other treatments have proved ineffective.
What are the Medical Cannabis Card Costs in Maryland?
You need to pay an initial fee of $50 to create an account with the MMCC; this fee is non-refundable. The fee charged by physicians vary, but the average in Maryland is around $200. If you want a physical patient ID card, the cost is $50. For minor patients, a caregiver ID card is also $50.
Other Important Information on the Maryland Medical Marijuana License Process
You can apply for an MMJ card in Maryland if you are a minor, but you need at least one caregiver assigned to you at all times. This individual must be a parent or legal guardian who is 21+ years of age. There are additional forms that must be completed if registering a minor patient and one of these forms must be notarized.
It was also possible to obtain medical marijuana in the state of Maryland if you were a non-resident. You needed to follow the steps above, but during the application process, you had to provide the name and address of a medical facility within the state where you were receiving treatment.
At the time, this seemed like fantastic news since Maryland is home to some world-class medical centers like Johns Hopkins. However, as at December 2017, the MMCC decided to extend its administrative hold on non-residents until further notice. As a result, applications from non-Maryland residents are not being reviewed so if you are an out-of-state patient, you can’t access medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary in Maryland.
The administrative hold had begun in October 2017 and was supposed to only last for 60 days. Presumably, the sheer number of Maryland residents seeking medical marijuana meant that the program was already stretched too thin to allow out-of-state patients to register. The most recent update on the MMCC website was in February 2018.
Up until January 1, 2019, you only required a patient ID number and a government issued ID to get marijuana from a Maryland dispensary. However, the MMCC have decided that all patients must purchase a medical cannabis ID card at the time of registration. Moreover, from April 1, 2019, all patients must show their medical marijuana ID cards when buying weed at a dispensary.
If you are a new patient, it just means you must pay the $50 at registration. If you are an existing patient, you can order your ID card for $50 now and will receive a card that expires on the day your current registration expires. Alternatively, you can submit a renewal application to the MMCC. You still need to pay $50, but the renewal registration lasts for three years. That option has been available since March 1, 2019,and offers good value for money.
Renewing is easy; just go to the MMCC landing page and log into your account. Click on ‘Renew Registration,’ answer a few questions, and update your address if necessary. The MMCC will review it and provide you with approval via email.