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The Differences Between Recreational and Medical Cannabis in Maryland

As of 2020, Maryland had more than 100,000 medical marijuana card holders. Close to 2% of the state’s population has the right to access marijuana to treat mental or physical health conditions. In 2023, the state expanded marijuana access further, allowing recreational sales to some citizens of the state.

This shift has left some people confused about their rights. While most know that the state sees a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, no one wants to end up on the wrong side of the law.

What differentiates recreational and medical customers? Do they have different rules for the amount of marijuana possessed, or how they can consume it? Do recreational users have to buy from different stores?

We’ll explain these differences in this article. Keep reading for more on the regulatory environment surrounding cannabis in Maryland.

Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana Quantities

As of July 2023, personal use of cannabis in Maryland no longer carries criminal penalties. Private citizens can have small amounts of recreational cannabis regardless of medical need.

The law sets limits on how much cannabis you can have at one time. These quantities apply to marijuana bought for recreational use. Medical card holders have different limits covered in a later section of this article.


Flower refers to pre-rolled joint products as well as buds. Users can have up to 1.5 ounces of flower.

Concentrated THC Products

Concentrated THC products include things like vape pens and vape oil. Users can purchase up to 12 grams of concentrated products at a time.


Some users prefer to grow their own plants or purchase plants to start growing. Each cannabis user can have up to two plants. These must be stored away from those under the age of 21.

If you’re part of a household with multiple people, you remain limited to four plants in total.

THC Concentration

Medical marijuana users can buy products with more THC. Recreational users face a limit of 750 milligrams of THC. Not all conditions respond to this amount of THC, but not all need it either.

What Does a Medical Card Offer?

While the state of Maryland has expanded recreational use with these new laws, a medical card offers some advantages. While not all marijuana users need a medical card with these changes to the law, some situations still require one.

A medical card sets different limits on how much cannabis you can have. For each 30-day period, you can purchase up to a set amount of medical cannabis. Most cards limit users to 120 grams of flower.

Marijuana purchased within the limits of the medical card faces no sales and use taxes. You will still have to purchase other paraphernalia with tax, but this can help keep your costs down in the long term.

If you travel on a regular basis, you’ll also benefit from having a medical marijuana card. Many states have reciprocity with Maryland on medical marijuana. You can purchase new cannabis at your destination, even though you can’t travel with it.

Things Which Haven’t Changed

Despite the changes surrounding medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, some parts of the law remain the same. Some parts fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and those have also not changed.

Public use of cannabis remains illegal. You cannot smoke marijuana or consume edibles in parks, public walkways, businesses, or vehicles. Whether you have a medical card or not, you will need to use your cannabis within your own home.

You also cannot use marijuana on land administrated by the federal government, either. This includes federal administrative buildings and national parks.

Some areas intend to let entrepreneurs start businesses where patrons can consume marijuana. Municipalities will need time to set up these rules before allowing this.

Major credit card companies don’t always process marijuana purchases. While Maryland has decriminalized cannabis, the federal government has not. As a result, credit card companies avoid processing these purchases for liability reasons.

Finally, employers can choose to test for cannabis use if they so desire. Employers can take action against users regardless of their medical marijuana cards. That hasn’t changed.

Would You Benefit From a Medical Card?

Not everyone needs a medical marijuana card. While the increased possession limit helps with police stops, it might not justify the initial doctor visits and effort on its own.

If you haven’t reached 21 years old, you’ll need a medical card for marijuana regardless. Even minors can get access to medical marijuana with certain conditions. Their caretakers need to handle the application process.

If you travel often, as mentioned earlier, a card will help. You can get access to your medication in other states that have also started medical programs.

Those with urgent needs should also get medical marijuana cards. Dispensaries have to have some open hours meant for serving cardholders. If you have an unusual schedule or difficulty leaving the house due to your condition, a card can help.

If you plan to use marijuana long-term, you’ll often benefit from having a card. If you only plan to use marijuana on occasion, you may not need it.

Either Way, Use Responsibly

The difference between medical and recreational marijuana will become more important as dispensaries and other establishments catch up with the changes in Maryland law. Whether you want to enjoy cannabis on your own time or deal with persistent mental and physical health issues, having a clear sense of these changes will help you make the right decisions for your mental health.

Do you need a medical marijuana card? Do you know where to get cannabis? If you need help with questions like these, reach out to us and we’ll help you on your way.

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