Maryland’s first legal cannabis crop is now growing, indicating the state’s approved dispensaries could have product to sell soon.
After a more than three-year delay, Maryland’s very first legal cannabis crop is growing and its medical cannabis program appears to finally be getting off the ground. Nineteen licensed companies have been given the green light to grow, process and distribute cannabis for medical use. Over the next few months, plants will grow and be harvested before being tested by an independent laboratory and processed into products to sell at dispensaries as early as November.
“This program is launched now,” said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. “We have growers, processors and a dispensary, and we have a lab. The market will determine how this moves forward.”
In what’s another positive sign for the progress of the program, the Medical Cannabis Commission approved more cultivation license holders, processors, and one testing lab last month. The state now has a total of 13 approved cultivators. The state’s program allows for three more.
“Now that we’ve got these growers and nearly all of the processors,” Debby Miran, a former Maryland medical marijuana commissioner and now cannabis consultant, told Marijuana Business Daily, “the ball is in their court to move quickly and according to regulations and get products on dispensary shelves.”
Nearly 13,000 patients have registered for Maryland’s medical cannabis program, and over 400 health-care providers have registered to certify patients to receive the substance. Under the law, approved patients can possess up to 12 grams, or approximately four ounces, of medical cannabis. The program’s list of approved conditions includes severe or persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, severe or chronic pain, anorexia, cachexia or wasting syndrome, and “any other condition that is severe and for which medical treatments have been ineffective if the symptoms reasonably can be expected to be relieved by medical marijuana.” Products available will include flower, oils, creams, and capsules.
Maryland’s medical marijuana law was approved in 2014, but the program’s rollout has hit several logistical and legal hiccups that have hindered its launch from the beginning. While the state has pre-approved 102 dispensaries, only one has gotten set up, passed employee background checks, and undergone the final inspections necessary to obtain a license.
That one approved dispensary, the Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cumberland, is ready to distribute products derived from the cannabis crops currently growing as soon as they’re ready. Sajal Roy, the dispensary’s owner, had said a grower has assured him that product will be available to sell as soon as November.
Maryland is one of 29 U.S. states to approve a law permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Maryland’s medical cannabis sales are expected to reach $20 million to $40 million in the first full year of operational dispensaries, according to the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook.