Starting July 1st, 2023, adults 21 and older in Maryland can purchase and possess recreational cannabis from licensed dispensaries. While this is exciting for the state, what does this change mean for medical patients? A lot of medical patients are wondering if they should keep their medical cannabis card.
For medical patients, there are a lot of reasons why you should keep your medical cannabis card. It comes with a lot of advantages such as lower taxes, access to higher potency products, medical consultations from physicians, and more. Below we have six reasons why you should keep your medical cannabis card in Maryland.
- Medical Product Access Won’t Be Disrupted
Current medical dispensaries will have to go through the process of becoming licensed to sell recreational products. That process of obtaining an additional license for the dispensary could take longer than anticipated. While the state now approves recreational use, there might be a delay in access to recreational products. Recreational sales will most likely go live at most dispensaries on July 1st, but there might be setbacks.
Yet, for a medical patient there will be no disruption in you purchasing your medicinal products. In most states with medical and recreational cannabis, medical patients also get priority over recreational users. This priority could mean that dispensaries will serve Maryland medical cannabis cardholders first. You can register as a medical patient [ HERE ] at Health for Life – it’s easy!
During the early stages of COVID-19 in 2020, one of the first things that occurred in Maryland was business closures due to COVID-19. However, businesses that qualified as an “essential business” could remain open, and one of those essential businesses that remained opened was medical cannabis dispensaries. Medical dispensaries were included in the “essential business” category in most states and any dispensaries that were licensed to retail adult-use products or CBD only shops were closed. Patients were still able to have access to medicinal products and if you rely on medical cannabis to help moderate your symptoms; this is a nice assurance to have as a medical patient.
- No Taxes for Medical Patients
On April 8, 2023, The Maryland General Assembly passed the Cannabis Reform Act (HB556/SB516). Governor Moore signed this effect into law on May 3, 2023. The legislation allows for cannabis sales to adults 21+ from licensed dispensaries and establishes the legal framework for adult-use cannabis sales beginning July 1, 2023.
Sales are not taxed for medical patients as the state sales do not apply to medicine. This means you do not pay taxes on any products every visit to a dispensary as a medical patient.
However, for recreational consumers that’s a different story. With the Cannabis Reform Act in place, the sales tax of cannabis products will differ for recreational consumers. Cannabis products for recreational consumers are subject to a 9% sales tax.
For example, if you are purchasing a pre roll priced at $12.00 as a medical patient, you only pay $12.00. But if you are purchasing that same preroll as a recreational consumer, and with an added sales tax of 9% you can expect to pay $13.08. While $1.08 may seem like much, added costs of products can add up. If you’re a medical patient that suffers from chronic pain, for example, and you or your caregiver picks up from the dispensary frequently, this is a great reason as to why you should keep your medical card to help reduce the costs of products.
- Larger Allotments for Medical Patients = More Products
Under the Cannabis Reform Act, adults 21 years and older will be able to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis, or a total amount of cannabis product that does not exceed 750 mg of THC. This is known as the “personal use amount.”
For medical cannabis patients, they have a larger allotment. From the day a medical patient is certified, they are given a certain 30-day rolling purchase allotment. Most patients are given the standard allotment of 120 grams of flower or 36 THC grams (THC grams is used for processed items—essentially non-flower cannabis products). This means that as a medical cannabis patient you can not only purchase more products, but you are also able to purchase higher potency products than recreational consumers.
Additionally, as a medical cannabis patient you may be eligible for increasing your allotment. For example, chronic pain patients may need to increase their allotment as they need higher-dose THC options to manage their condition. For recreational consumers, at this time you are not able to increase the allotment.
- Spend Less Money to Become a Medical Patient
Beginning October 1st, 2022 the charge for a Regular Patient Application was reduced to $25. The fee covers the payment for the Patient Registration and ID Card. The Patient Registration Expiration date has also been extended to 6 years.
The Application fee is waived for patients enrolled in the Maryland Medicaid Program (Maryland Medical Assistance Program) and the VA Health Care Program (Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System) [ Please Click Here ] for the requirements.
- Access to Medical Card Consultations & Advice
Throughout life, your health will continue to change and so does cannabis. Any health conditions you are managing may also change and the same goes for any prescription medication you take. This is why it’s imperative to speak to a registered physician or provider about consuming cannabis while taking any prescriptions. Cannabis can conflict with some type of medications and if your medication changes, a physician may recommend another consumption method for symptom management. Patients who use medical cannabis for mental and physical health needs to treat anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, depression or epilepsy may benefit from ongoing care, consultations, and medical advice from a physician. This is a great reason for why you should keep your medical cannabis card. At Health for Life, we can help with you finding a registered physician [Learn More Here] in Maryland.
- Assistance from Caregivers
For some patients that are in need of daily assistance because of a health condition, they designate a caregiver. A caregiver is a legal guardian, or a care provider that can purchase on behalf of a medical patient. In the state of Maryland, as a medical cannabis patient you may designate up to five persons as caregivers. Having a medical card and a designated caregiver allows that person to assist in getting you the medicinal cannabis products you need.
This situation can also apply to children that might need medical cannabis as well. Children who meet their provider’s criteria for treatment can become legal patients in Maryland. However, children must have a parent or guardian to serve as a caregiver. As a recreational consumer, you must be 21 years or older and there isn’t an opportunity to have a caregiver to assist you in obtaining products. This is another important reason why you should keep your medical cannabis card if you are someone that might need daily assistance or care.
Having your medical card is still a good idea even though recreational use is on its way. There are multiple reasons why you should keep your medical cannabis card. While there are lots of changes on the horizon for recreational use, by having your medical card your access to products will not be disrupted, your allotment is larger, and overall, you are spending less money as a medical patient.
If you’re new to the world of cannabis and are interested in becoming a medical patient, it’s simple and easy. We have all the information to help you get started here for registering as a medical cannabis patient [Click Here].
MMCC (Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission)
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