The Old Line State of Maryland has had some issues getting its medical marijuana industry rolling – the 900+ day wait for patients in the state has been grueling, but it will soon be over. Maryland’s non-lottery-based selection process was based not on cannabis experience or business ability, but just on the choices of the non-diverse panel. Cox of the Baltimore Sun noted that “untrained volunteers” were the people who decided who would have dispensaries and who wouldn’t. Cheryl Glenn, and Baltimore Democrat, noted that the state “never” realized that the initially-selected and unqualified volunteers would “end up with the huge responsibility” of selecting all medical cannabis licensees.
Maryland’s Marijuana Laws
Marijuana in Maryland has been decriminalized for all amounts under 10 grams. Over 10 grams is considered a misdemeanor carrying one year in jail and a $1,000 fine; intent to distribute is a felony (5 years, $15,000), and trafficking 5-45 kgs carries a felony sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The hemp industry in Maryland is very active, and research into hemp has been authorized. Hash and concentrates are penalized just like marijuana. Maryland has a mandatory minimum sentence law, and medical marijuana is legal in Maryland.
Who Is on Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Panel?
Cheryl Glenn, daughter of the woman the Maryland Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission is name after is now threatening legislation that would stop the commission from holding authority and change the licensing process entirely. The General Assembly of Maryland has been criticized because it failed to set up oversight or resources, and instead gave the commission enormous responsibility it was not capable of handling correctly. Former commissioner Deborah R. Miran stated “‘Holy #$%&, we have to write regulations…we had no help. We had one-tenth of an assistant attorney general’s time.” She has since been replaced. The resources the panel was originally given were $125,000 and one full-time staff member – the panel was originally intending only to enact a public policy change for patients, not handle the regulation of a million-dollar industry.
Which Dispensaries Were Approved?
Despite an extremely rocky start and a lack of diversity in the choices, Maryland has made them, based on submissions of 1,100 applications; only 15 of those can be cultivators (they originally estimated that number at 300). With so many applications, the commission was again bogged down and said its costs were increased five times over; Towson University experts were recruited to review and rank the applications double-blind style. GTI Maryland and Maryland Cultivation are currently suing the commission, saying their application were unfairly taken out of competition by the unqualified process. There is also an ethics probe against Dan K. Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat who failed to publicize his role as clinical director of one of the applying companies. Out of the 1,100 applicants, 30 businesses have been chosen for medical marijuana licenses; including applicants with politic and law enforcement ties. Among the preliminary licensing approvals were Doctors Orders Maryland of Dorchester County (that’s Morhaim’s company), Holistic Industries of Prince George’s County, Green Leaf Medical, Forward Gro, Curio Cultivation, Freestate Wellness, Grow West, Harvest of Maryland, HMS Health, and SunMed Growers. For a complete list, go here. Way to go, Maryland!