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Legalization presents new opportunities in Maryland, Missouri

December 5, 2022

November is a month of change. The weather gets crisper, the landscape becomes more colorful, and elections can mean laws are destined for amendment. Two states in particular saw these changes come to fruition this past month. We’re exploring the new Maryland cannabis law and legalization, as well as the new Missouri cannabis laws, and the opportunities they present to businesses looking to participate.

Cannabis Laws in Maryland

In the state of Maryland, adult residents will be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces, 12 grams of concentrate, 750 milligrams of delta-9 THC, or two marijuana plants, as of July 1, 2023. Further, records for those arrested for possession will be expunged, and for those serving time for non-violent, low-level possession will have their sentences reconsidered. On or before July 1, 2024, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services shall expunge all cases in which “(1) possession of cannabis under § 5–601 of the Criminal Law Article is the only charge in the case; and (2) the charge was issued before July 1, 2023.” § 5–601 of the Criminal Law Article makes it a crime for one to use or possess less than ten grams of cannabis. Even more, possession of up to 2.50 ounces will be decriminalized as a civil offense rather than a misdemeanor.

The new cannabis laws in Maryland also establish a fund to provide cannabis business assistance for small businesses looking to enter the cannabis industry. This assistance applies to minority- and women-owned businesses too.

Regarding licensing and taxation, Maryland lawmakers have some decisions to make. Kevin Ford, executive director of Uplift Action Fund, said, “Nothing has been set in stone regarding taxation or how those tax dollars will be distributed, which makes the upcoming legislative session extremely important. Now, the real work begins to ensure that the rollout of Maryland’s adult-use market provides equal opportunity and equitable resources.”

Convening exactly one week after the measure passed, the Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup, which was formed last year by House Speaker Adrienne Jones and has already worked on cannabis policy issues, centered on how to tax cannabis and distribute revenue. Del. Luke Clippinger (D) said in opening remarks that Maryland is on track to make significant impacts over the next few months as it relates to the legalization of cannabis.

“We’re on the right track and, working together, I’m confident we’ll continue to make sound decisions as we build out our taxation and regulatory structures regarding the legalization of cannabis,” he said, thanking members for working diligently over the last year to ensure they produce “thoughtful, meaningful and safe policies.”

Missouri Cannabis Laws

Residents and visitors can stop asking is recreational weed legal in Missouri. Also due to 2022 voters, Missouri cannabis laws now allow adults to grow up to six flowering plants at home and to purchase and possess up to three recreational ounces. A sales tax of 6% will go toward facilitating expungements for certain nonviolent offenses, veterans’ health care, substance misuse treatment and the state’s public defender system. Expungements will not be automatic, however, as the legal wording states Amendment 3 will “allow individuals with certain marijuana-related offenses to petition for release from prison or parole and probation and have their records expunged.” The process for petitioning is to be determined.

The new law also adds at least 144 new small business licensees to the existing businesses licensed for medical marijuana, according to Legal Missouri 2022. These new license holders will be selected by lottery. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services plans to begin awarding comprehensive licenses to medical facilities by Feb. 6, 2023. Currently operating medical facilities may sell recreational cannabis once a license is received. For new businesses looking to enter the market, the lottery selection process will award licenses and certificates that are planned for equal distribution to each congressional district.

In order to supervise the Missouri equity measure, the Department of Health and Human Services, the state agency tasked with overseeing the marijuana program, is in the process of hiring a Chief Equity Officer. Purported to be the first of its kind in the nation, the microlicense program is designed to boost opportunities within the industry for businesses in disadvantaged communities. The Chief Equity Officer will also be responsible for educating the public about this program and potentially producing reports about minority participation in the cannabis industry. By law, the department must select a candidate by Feb. 6, 2023.

Cannabis Business Opportunities

November changes have rippling effects. Did cannabis legalization in Maryland pass? Yes! Is recreational weed legal in Missouri? Yes! If you want to start a business, now is the time to secure property. If you want to acquire an existing business, now is the time to review options. Canna Real Estate Group specializes in commercial cannabis real estate and provides financial, architecture, construction, and application and license consulting. Schedule a cannabis real estate consultation today!