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Maryland  cannabis consultants


Cannabis Consultant Insights

Maryland Cannabis Consultant Insights

Intro to Maryland Cannabis
Timeline of Maryland Cannabis Regulation

Overview of Maryland Cannabis Regulation

Maryland's journey toward cannabis legalization has been marked by incremental legislative and regulatory advancements, reflecting a growing acceptance and understanding of cannabis use. The state initially focused on medical cannabis, laying a foundation for regulated use and establishing the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) to oversee the program.

Significant milestones include the passage of legislation allowing medical cannabis in 2014, which enabled patients with specific medical conditions to access cannabis treatments. This regulatory framework evolved over the years, incorporating patient feedback and expanding access.

In 2022, Maryland voters approved a ballot referendum, "Question 4," which set the stage for the legalization of adult-use cannabis. This led to the passage of the Cannabis Reform Act in 2023, establishing the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) to oversee both medical and adult-use cannabis programs. The Act also introduced a social equity focus, aiming to rectify past injustices by prioritizing licenses for applicants from disproportionately impacted communities.

The legalization of adult-use cannabis for individuals aged 21 and over took effect on July 1, 2023, marking Maryland's full entry into the recreational cannabis market. The MCA continues to develop and refine regulations to ensure a balanced, inclusive, and sustainable cannabis industry.

As Maryland becomes the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis, it offers both opportunities and challenges. The state's approach is inclusive, diverse, and aims to build a sustainable industry model. Below is a detailed guide to understanding Maryland’s cannabis regulations, market projections, history, and the business license application process.

Timeline of Adult-Use Cannabis in Maryland



  • November 8: Maryland voters pass "Question 4," legalizing cannabis use for individuals aged 21 and older, effective July 1, 2023.



  • March 1: MMCC submits the Maryland Cannabis Use Baseline Study to the General Assembly.

  • April 8: Maryland General Assembly passes the Cannabis Reform Act (HB556/SB516).

  • May 3: Governor Wes Moore signs the Cannabis Reform Act into law, creating the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA).

  • July 1: Legalization of adult-use cannabis possession and purchase. Existing medical dispensaries allowed to sell both adult-use and medical cannabis after paying a conversion fee.

  • July 17: Governor appoints an Executive Director to the Office of Social Equity.

  • September 8: MCA opens the first application round exclusively for social equity applicants.

  • December 15: MCA launches its Medical and Adult-Use Data Dashboard.

  • December 19: MCA issues conditional awards to four majority-minority held firms.



  • March 7: MCA announces lottery drawings for social equity applicants.

  • March 13: MCA opens a cannabis reference laboratory.

  • March 14: MCA holds a lottery for 174 social equity business licenses.

  • April 18: MCA launches a public health and safety campaign under BeCannabisSmart.


Timeline of Medical Cannabis Legalization in Maryland



  • Maryland passes legislation allowing the use of medical cannabis, establishing a regulatory framework for patient access and treatment.



  • April 9: House Bill 837 and House Bill 1 (2022) lay groundwork for adult-use cannabis, including provisions for medical cannabis and social equity.

  • December 30: MMCC submits a report on Hemp-Derived Non-Delta-9-THC Products to the General Assembly.



  • March 1: MMCC submits the Maryland Cannabis Use Baseline Study.

  • April 8: Maryland General Assembly passes the Cannabis Reform Act.

  • May 3: Governor signs the Cannabis Reform Act, establishing the MCA.

  • July 1: Existing medical dispensaries permitted to sell both adult-use and medical cannabis.

Timeline of Maryland Adult Use Cannabis
Market Opportunity
License Applications

Maryland's Cannabis Market Landscape

As the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis, Maryland is poised for significant market growth. In 2023, projections estimate $642 million in legal cannabis sales, with over $200 million from the adult-use segment. By 2025, the market is expected to reach $1.1 billion, growing to $1.3 billion by 2027. This presents unprecedented opportunities for businesses and investors in Maryland's cannabis industry.


​Maryland Cannabis License Applications 

Maryland’s cannabis industry caters to various business sizes and models, with different license types designed to accommodate both large-scale and small-scale operations.


Standard License

  • Growers: Can operate 10,000-300,000 square feet of indoor canopy.

  • Processors: Can handle more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis annually.

  • Dispensaries: Permitted to operate retail locations.


Micro License

  • Growers: Limited to 10,000 square feet of indoor canopy.

  • Processors: Limited to processing 1,000 pounds of cannabis annually.

  • Dispensaries: Operate cannabis delivery services with up to 10 employees.


Incubator Space License

  • Provides a collaborative environment for micro license holders to foster growth and innovation within the industry.


On-site Consumption License

  • Allows establishments where patrons can legally consume cannabis, similar to bars and cafes in the alcohol industry.


Critical Components: Three-Pronged Assessment

Maryland’s application process assesses applications based on three critical components:


Operational Plan

  • Should include secure, safe, and effective operational strategies, encompassing security measures, quality control, product handling, inventory control, sales strategies, and compliance protocols.


Business Plan

  • Must demonstrate financial viability, sustainability, and long-term growth strategies, highlighting team credentials, organizational structure, and appropriate working conditions.


Diversity Plan

  • Emphasizes hiring, supplier diversity, and overall business strategies that embrace inclusivity and diverse perspectives.


Social Equity Qualification

In the first round of adult-use cannabis business licensing, only social equity qualified applicants will be considered. A social equity applicant must have at least 65% ownership by individuals who have:

  • Lived in a disproportionately impacted area for five of the past ten years.

  • Attended a public school in such an area for five years.

  • Attended a state institution where at least 40% of students are Pell grant-eligible.


The 'Pass-Fail' Mechanism: It's Binary

Maryland uses a binary pass-fail mechanism for initial application review, ensuring simplicity and clarity. If an application meets all criteria, it proceeds; if not, it is halted.


Making it To The Finish Line: Application Timeline

Application Timeline

  • License Application Release: September 2023

  • Application Acceptance: Begins 60 days after release, lasting 30 days.

  • Lottery Selection: For applications that meet criteria, a lottery system ensures fairness in license allocation.

  • License Award: First round licenses issued by January 1, 2024, and second round licenses by May 1, 2024.


Maryland: A "Limited Licensing" State

Maryland limits the number of licenses available, enhancing oversight and reducing competition. This model can lead to better market penetration and profitability for licensed operators but has faced criticism for potentially stifling innovation and creating monopolistic tendencies.


Maryland's Upcoming Licensing Rounds: A Glimpse

First Round (Social Equity - 2023)

  • Standard Licenses: 20 Grower, 40 Processor, 80 Dispensary

  • Micro Licenses: 30 Grower, 30 Processor, 10 Delivery-based Dispensary

  • Incubator Licenses: 10


Second Round (General - 2024)

  • Standard Licenses: 25 Grower, 25 Processor, 120 Dispensary

  • Micro Licenses: 70 Grower, 70 Processor

  • Incubator Licenses: 10

  • On-site Consumption Licenses: 15

SWOT analysis

SWOT Analysis of Operating a Cannabis Business in Maryland

By understanding these strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, cannabis businesses in Maryland can better navigate the complex landscape, capitalize on growth opportunities, and mitigate potential risks.


Strengths refer to the internal attributes and resources that give an organization a competitive advantage. These can include aspects like a strong brand reputation, proprietary technology, skilled workforce, and superior product quality. In a business context, strengths are what the company does well and are its positive attributes.

Growing Market Potential:

  • Maryland's cannabis market is projected to reach $1.1 billion by 2025, indicating substantial growth and opportunity for businesses​ (Expert Market Research)​.

Regulatory Framework:

  • The establishment of the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) provides a structured and comprehensive regulatory framework, which can offer stability and clear guidelines for businesses​ (Expert Market Research)​​ (Marijuana Moment)​.

Social Equity Initiatives:

  • Maryland's focus on social equity, including dedicated licensing rounds for social equity applicants, promotes inclusivity and diversity within the industry, potentially fostering a more supportive community of businesses.

Comprehensive Licensing:

  • The availability of various license types (standard, micro, incubator, and on-site consumption) caters to a wide range of business models, from large-scale operations to small startups.



Weaknesses are the internal factors that place an organization at a disadvantage relative to competitors. These can include a lack of capital, poor location, insufficient technology, or weak brand recognition. Identifying weaknesses is crucial for understanding areas that need improvement within the organization.

High Entry Costs:

  • The financial requirements for obtaining licenses and starting a cannabis business in Maryland can be substantial, potentially limiting access for smaller entrepreneurs.

Complex Application Process:

  • The application process, with its stringent requirements and the pass-fail mechanism, can be challenging to navigate, requiring significant time and resources​.

Limited Licensing:

  • As a limited licensing state, the number of available licenses is capped, creating high competition and potentially making it difficult for new businesses to enter the market​.



Opportunities are external factors that an organization can capitalize on to achieve its goals. These can include market growth, technological advancements, favorable industry trends, and changes in regulations. Opportunities are areas where the company can leverage its strengths to achieve growth and success.

Market Expansion:

  • The legalization of adult-use cannabis opens up a large consumer base, offering significant revenue opportunities for businesses​ (Marijuana Moment)​​


Innovation in Product Offerings:

  • With diverse license types, businesses can innovate in their product offerings, including on-site consumption and delivery services, to cater to various consumer preferences.


Public Health Campaigns:

  • The BeCannabisSmart campaign and other public health initiatives can educate consumers and promote responsible usage, potentially enhancing the industry's reputation and consumer trust.


First-Mover Advantage:

  • Early entrants into Maryland's adult-use market can establish brand loyalty and market presence before the industry becomes more saturated​.



Threats are external factors that could cause trouble for an organization or project. These can include new competitors, changes in market demand, regulatory changes, and economic downturns. Threats represent potential challenges that could impede the organization’s performance and require proactive management.

Regulatory Changes:

  • The evolving nature of cannabis regulations poses a risk, as businesses must continuously adapt to new laws and compliance requirements​ (Expert Market Research)​.


Market Competition:

  • As more states legalize cannabis, Maryland businesses will face increased competition not only locally but also from neighboring states​ (Expert Market Research)​.


Federal Uncertainty:

  • The ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis creates challenges, including banking restrictions and potential legal risks, which can complicate operations and financial management​ (Marijuana Moment)​.


Social and Political Opposition:

  • Despite legalization, there may still be social and political opposition to cannabis businesses, potentially leading to restrictive local ordinances or community pushback​ (Expert Market Research)​.

Maryland Cannabis Consultants

As Maryland's cannabis market continues to grow and evolve, the opportunities for entrepreneurs and established businesses are abundant. Navigating the complex regulatory landscape and seizing these opportunities requires expert guidance and strategic planning. Cann Strategy is here to support your journey from startup preparation and operational launch to achieving excellence in daily operations. Our comprehensive services cover every aspect of the cannabis industry, including dispensaries, cultivations, and production facilities. With a proven track record and deep industry knowledge, Cann Strategy is your partner for securing licenses and building successful cannabis enterprises in Maryland. Contact us today to turn your cannabis vision into reality and excel in this burgeoning market.


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Contact us to discuss Maryland cannabis business consulting services.

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