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Maryland Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

26 Jun


Update Applicable to:

All employers in the state of Maryland

What happened?

As of July 1, 2023, possession, and use of small amounts of cannabis and cannabis products will be legal for individuals at least 21 years old.

What are the details?

On November 8, 2022, Marylanders decisively voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. In response, the Maryland legislature passed a bill, which was signed by the governor on May 3 to provide for the sale of recreational marijuana in Maryland.

The FAQs do mention that the legislation does not address cannabis use or impairment in the workplace. Individuals remain subject to any existing laws and workplace policies on substance or cannabis use (e.g., federal laws prohibiting the operation of commercial transport vehicles while impaired, or workplace policies prohibiting cannabis use specifically and/or impairment generally). The legislation does not address the use of employer drug screening of employees or prospective employees. This means, at least for now, that employers can maintain zero tolerance policies if so inclined. However, keep in mind that the state has protections for off-duty medical use of cannabis.

As the new law goes into effect, the Maryland legislature may look to enact laws that would limit what actions an employer can take related to an employee’s off duty recreational marijuana use.  As, at this point, it looks like no such action will occur before the law goes into effect, employers will still want to consider how policies like pre-employment drug testing that includes marijuana or policies prohibiting employees from engaging in off-duty marijuana use will impact their recruitment and retention.

For more information, please see the links below:

Maryland Cannabis Administration Page

Legislation Page (HB0556)

Chapter 254

Adult-Use Cannabis FAQs

Article 1, Article 2

What do employers need to do?

Maryland employers should review their policies relating to the use and possession of drugs in the workplace and should specifically address recreational marijuana use to ensure that that the employer’s policies and expectations clearly cover the subject of cannabis use in the workplace and impairment at work. 

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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