Marijuana in Maryland: college edition. Hey, students! While you were on summer break, Maryland legalized adult recreational use of cannabis. Here’s a guide to the new law and what public health experts recommend.
First, the basics on legal use of weed: You’ve got to be 21+. You can carry up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower or up to 12g of concentrate or up to 750mg of THC. You can’t use it in public (no bars, no parks, not on the street). You can’t use it in a vehicle under any circumstance. You can use it in your private home.
I’m over 21. How can I use cannabis legally? Purchase it at a licensed dispensary, where the product has been tested for contaminants like mold, salmonella and E. coli. Bring cash to pay, or pay with a cannabis payment app. Once you have your cannabis, wait until you get to your own home to use it. And if you’re smoking, make sure your landlord allows it.
What if I live on campus? Even if you’re 21+, you can’t possess or use cannabis on college property. Universities must maintain a drug-free campus to receive federal funding, and weed is still illegal under federal law. Mathew Swinburne, associate director, the Network for Public Health Law housed at University of Maryland says: Universities must share the code of conduct and drug policy with students every year. What if I have a medical marijuana card? Medical cannabis isn’t allowed on campus, either, because it’s in violation of federal law. If you have a medical card, the best option may be to live off-campus.
What if I get caught? Penalties should be listed in your college’s drug policy, and could include substance abuse education or suspension. The school may also report you to police. If you’re convicted, you could lose eligibility for federal student aid on top of civil or criminal penalties. Maryland law bans police from stopping or searching any person or car solely due to cannabis odor. This applies to university police, too.
If you do try weed, here are some tips to keep safe. Start low and go slow. Everyone reacts differently to pot. Also, vaping or smoking will be felt faster than an edible, which may take effect after 30 minutes to two hours. Read labels: products should list how many milligrams of THC they contain. Wait for the effect before taking another dose. Malinda Kennedy, project director for the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems says: With a lot of these products you can end up ingesting way more than you think.
Don’t use cannabis and drive. That’s driving under the influence, which is illegal in Maryland and can get you pulled over, not to mention that it could endanger you and others. Malinda Kennedy says: Experts say you should wait at least six hours before driving. Don’t bring your cannabis to another state — even if you’re going to a place where it’s legal, like D.C. Transporting cannabis across state lines is a federal crime.
If you’re already having trouble at school, using weed might push you further off track. Cannabis can negatively impact attention, memory and executive function. Malinda Kennedy says: Studies show that the higher a student’s cannabis use, the more they skip class. Be careful if mixing cannabis with other substances. If you take prescription medication, you may want to talk to your doctor about possible drug interactions with weed.
One combination you’re likely to find is alcohol and weed. Combining them is called cross-fading. Mixing the two might enhance your high, but it will increase your impairment and could carry nasty side effects: dizziness, nausea, disorientation. On top of that, cannabis can inhibit vomiting. Why is that bad when you cross-fade? Vomiting clears your body of toxins when you drink too much, and without this check, you could risk alcohol poisoning.
What if I, or a friend, have a medical emergency while using weed? Some schools have medical amnesty policies to encourage students to seek help. Amnesty policies promise not to discipline students who call for medical or law enforcement help during an emergency brought on by illicit drugs, including cannabis. To qualify, you have to assist the person experiencing the emergency, stay with them and cooperate with college staff afterward. Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law does something similar for drug overdose situations and would apply if the emergency happens off-campus.

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