Regulators approved Maryland’s first medical marijuana dispensary, authorizing a Frederick company to open its doors immediately even though the drug will not be available for months. The Wellness Institute of Maryland plans to start seeing patients and take what owner Michael Kline called “pre-orders” for cannabis. Although Maryland legalized marijuana over four years ago, only one firm is allowed to grow cannabis.
The remaining companies picked to launch Maryland’s marijuana growing industry have only six weeks to secure a final license or risk losing out on the state’s lucrative market. The commission awarded 15 preliminary processing licenses and 15 preliminary growing licenses a year ago. If the firms are not granted licenses by August 15, 2017, the commission could revoke the companies’ opportunities to work in Maryland’s medical marijuana industry. The commission plans to meet more frequently in the following weeks to approve licenses after each applicant undergoes a final state inspection. The commission also picked 102 companies to open dispensaries across the state, but they do not face the same August 15 deadline.
The state’s medical marijuana program has been controversial over how the state picked winning firms and whether minority-owned companies could fairly compete for the licenses. Maryland, with a limited supply of cannabis growers and a broad base of potential clients, attracted hundreds of applications to launch the program. Nearly 9,000 patients have signed up to register with the state, and that count does not include the out-of-state patients who are permitted by law to buy marijuana.
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