What Teachers and Child Care Professionals Need to Know About Legalized MarijuanaWith the start of the new school year in September 2023, students, teachers, and parents need to understand how Maryland’s new recreational marijuana law applies. Fundamentally, anyone who attends a school, works in a school, or provides daycare services needs to understand that there are state laws and there are educational regulations. Violations of the laws may result in criminal charges. Violations of the educational regulations may result in disciplinary actions, including suspension, expulsion, termination, loss of license, and other consequences.

Effective July 1, 2023, adults 21+ in Maryland may legally purchase and possess cannabis. The cannabis/cannabis products must be purchased from a licensed dispensary. The person buying the cannabis must display a government-issued photo ID. The amount that can be purchased “is up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower (including joints and pre-rolls), 12 grams of concentrated cannabis (vape products), or a total amount of edible cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg THC.”

Smoking cannabis or hemp in public places is illegal – including indoor places of employment and any federal property. Using cannabis while driving and impaired driving is still illegal. The cannabis cannot be carried across state lines.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed concern that marijuana can negatively affect teenagers, “whose brains are still developing, causing difficulty thinking and problems with memory and attention span.”

Cannabis and childcare centers

The Baltimore Sun reported in the summer of 2023 that the State Department of Education is working to assess how Maryland’s new cannabis law will impact schools, students, and caregivers. The Department passed an emergency regulation to address how the new law will affect childcare facilities in the state. The regulation provides that:

  • Childcare centers and childcare providers must notify caregivers about any cannabis use, vaping, or smoking on the premises.
  • It is illegal for any provider or person to consume alcohol, smoke, or vape while the center is open to the public.
  • Providers cannot “be under the influence of cannabis or an illegal substance or a controlled dangerous substance that’s not prescribed for them.”
  • Cannabis, smoking, tobacco, and alcohol materials must be kept out of reach of children.

Cannabis and high school

Per the Sun, “One state Education Department staff member expressed their biggest concern is edibles because they look like candy gummies to children.”

A spokesperson for the state education department stated that cannabis is already being discussed at different grade school levels and lessons – depending on the age of the student. Health educators are “required to talk about short- and long-term effects of marijuana products.” One of the discussion points is how abstinence has many benefits. The state education department does provide an overall framework for discussion.

Can high school students who use cannabis or possess cannabis while in school be disciplined?

The spokesperson added that students are not allowed to have cannabis in school even though it is legal for adults outside of school. In the Baltimore City public schools, for example, an administrator or teacher, according to the code of conduct, can intervene if a student is found to be under the influence of drugs or controlled substances, including cannabis. Among other actions, social workers, psychologists, and counselors can be informed. The school police will also be notified. Discipline can include intervention, suspension, and even expulsion. Suspensions and expulsions may also apply if a student distributes or sells drugs at a school.

The Maryland School System reported that for the 2021-22 school year, more than 4,000 suspensions and expulsions took place for drug possession by students.

The Baltimore Sun reported that more than 25 percent of high school students in Maryland have tried cannabis, based on information provided by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to the PTA Council of Baltimore County. Seventy-five percent of Maryland students have never tried marijuana. Recreational use of marijuana by adults in Maryland is only permissible for people 21 and older.

Can university students who use cannabis or possess cannabis while in school be disciplined?

University students who are 21 or older (generally, seniors and some juniors) cannot use cannabis on Maryland university campuses even though recreational use by 21-year-olds may be permissible off-campus. The Baltimore Sun states that cannabis is still considered a controlled substance, as defined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and that Maryland universities need to comply with “the federal Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act to remain in good standing for federal funding.”

What should students know about cannabis use at schools and universities in Maryland?

Underage students who are suspected of using or possessing cannabis may be subject to testing. Disciplinary action may include suspension or expulsion if the school or university has rules about having these substances on campus. It would be safe to assume that any K-12 school student could face some type of disciplinary action, regardless of how old the student is. College and university campuses, however, may have rules that vary by institution.

What should teachers know about cannabis use at schools and universities in Maryland?

Teachers should understand that if they use or possess cannabis while on school, they:

  • May be subject to disciplinary action
  • May be fired
  • May be charged with various drug crimes related to the use or possession of drugs at school. The new Maryland cannabis law could provide a defense for use outside of school grounds, however.

Day care centers, individual providers. and other organizations that provide services to school children may lose their licenses if they use or possess cannabis on their premises.

At Carey Law Office, we have represented defendants charged with drug offenses for 40 years. We understand the full range of criminal and civil consequences for possessing and using drugs. We understand when drug possession and use is legal and when it can get you into trouble. We’ll assert all available defenses on your behalf, including asserting your Constitutional rights. If you’ve been charged or disciplined for cannabis use, contact Carey Law Office today. We have locations in Bowie, Crofton, and Owings, and also serve Calvert County. We’ll fight to obtain your freedom and help address any disciplinary actions.