Earlier this month, Maryland’s medical marijuana regulators authorized eight companies to grow cannabis and four to process it.
Eight companies that grow marijuana have gotten the great light from Maryland’s medical marijuana regulators to begin cultivating plants. They join ForwardGro LLC in Anne Arundel County, the only growing business that had been granted a final license by Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Cannabis Commission up until now.
The new approvals are a big step forward for the state’s program, which has started extremely sluggish since the state legalized medical marijuana in 2013.
“Now, we have a real industry,” Cary Millstein, CEO of newly licensed grower Freestate Wellness, told The Baltimore Sun.
Regulators also approved four processing businesses that will turn the cannabis plants into useable products. The newly licensed businesses have until August 28 to complete the final vetting and inspection process or risk revoking their license opportunity, although the Commission’s executive director Patrick Jameson has said the agency might grant extensions if there are delays beyond a company’s control.
The authorizations come nearly a year after the Commission had given preliminary approval for licenses to 15 growers and 15 processors. The program has been plagued with lawsuits, controversy, and delays. State courts are now reviewing a pair of cases that allege the Commission improperly selected growing companies. Lawmakers are also weighing whether to issue licenses to companies owned by African Americans, who as of now don’t own any of the firms that were granted approval.
Maryland’s medical marijuana law allows qualified patients to possess up to 120 grams, or approximately four ounces, of cannabis at a time. Qualifying conditions include cachexia, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, glaucoma, nausea, spasms, and loss of appetite.
Demand for medical cannabis in Maryland currently far outweighs supply. The Baltimore Sun reports that over 12,000 patients have already registered for medical marijuana and 400 physicians have signed up to be qualified to write cannabis recommendations.
There are currently 102 pre-approved medical marijuana dispensaries throughout Maryland. However, just one — in Frederick — has received a final license. The others, according to the Commission’s website, are still securing local zoning approvals, completing compliance inspections, and undergoing background checks. The new growing and processing approvals will hopefully be able to provide them with cannabis product once the dispensaries are finally approved and become operational.
The 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook predicted that Maryland’s medical cannabis sales would reach $20 million to $40 million in the first year of operational dispensaries. Cannabis industry research firm New Frontier has projected Maryland’s medical cannabis market will grow to $221 million by 2021.
People in Maryland continue to have legal access to cannabidiol (CBD) products, despite what’s going on with their state’s medical marijuana program.
In addition to Maryland, 28 U.S. states and Washington D.C. have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.