Maryland Lawmakers Pass Bill to Launch Recreational Cannabis Market with Existing Medical Operators Getting First Access
MARYLAND– Maryland lawmakers have passed a bill that will legalize recreational cannabis sales starting on July 1, 2023. The new law will allow the state’s existing 102 medical cannabis operators to have first access to recreational sales, but hundreds of other businesses will also be allowed to enter the market. The Baltimore Banner reported that there will be 75 standard cultivation licenses, 100 processor licenses, 300 dispensary licenses, 100 micro grower licenses, 100 micro processor licenses, at least 10 micro dispensary/delivery licenses, and an unknown number of consumption lounge licenses.
To qualify for recreational sales, licensed medical cannabis dispensaries will need to pay an 8% gross revenue from 2022 and licensed medical cannabis growers and processors will have to pay 10% of gross revenues from last year. All licensed medical cannabis companies will also be required to pay permit fees between $100,000 and $2 million, as per The Banner.
The first round of new business licensing will start in January, with eligible social equity applicants being able to apply at that point. The second round of new licensing is slated to begin in May 2024, as reported by The Baltimore Sun.
In addition to legalizing the market, the new bill creates two regulatory agencies, including the Maryland Cannabis Administration, which will oversee the industry at large and absorb the state Medical Cannabis Commission, and a “social equity office” that will be separate from the administration but will support social equity business applicants. Maryland has also committed $80 million to funding and support systems for social equity entrepreneurs, as per The Banner.
The bill has been approved by lawmakers just days before the deadline of the legislative session, when the 2023 session will adjourn for the year. Gov. Wes Moore has committed to signing the bill into law. The move follows a ballot measure victory last November when voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis in Maryland.
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