Medical marijuana was approved in Maryland more than five years ago. One might think that is enough time to get the program up and running, but that has not been the case. There are no open grow operations, and there are no dispensaries. However, according to a recent news article from The Baltimore Sun, that is all expected to change by early fall 2017. Despite this news, many prospective medical marijuana patients are of the, “I’ll believe it when I see it” state of mind until the dispensaries actually open.
The first problem that affects states all over the country is that federal law prohibits the transportation (trafficking) of medical marijuana across state lines. This means that any medical cannabis sold in the state must be grown and processed in the state as well. This means that there must be grow operations, and the state decided that that there should 15 of them. This is more than other states, but it still makes for a very competitive and potentially politically charged process. The state finally approved 15 companies last year, but there were challenges based upon the fact that not one single minority company was selected. There was a requirement for geographical diversity within the state, but not with respect to company ownership. This has lead to numerous lawsuits and additional slowdowns.
However, the state has finally allowed people to register as a medical marijuana patient via an online portal. Once this is complete, the patient must go to a doctor who has registered with the committee to recommend that the patient has a medical condition that will benefit from the use of medical marijuana. There is a list of specific conditions, but doctors also have some leeway, as there is a sort of catchall in the enabling legislation.
In addition to medical marijuana cards being issued, there are grow operations that are close to being operational, and they plan to have plants growing by late summer and products available in dispensaries by early fall. The dispensaries are not open either, so this is why there is still a wait-and-see approach by many patients in need, as they are years into the process and not a single patient has been treated. This is actually good compared to the District of Columbia, which took over a decade to have a working program, and at first it was available to less than a dozen patients based upon the restrictions.
In Los Angeles, things have gone a lot smoother, because there was less regulation from the state for many years. However, now there are new rules packages that have been released by the governor, as well as some major changes at the state level as legislatures feared they were losing their chances to regulate the industry and saw what was then in place as a sort of Wild West with little statewide regulation. This means that there will be various changes that will have an effect on the industry, and the best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced medical cannabis attorney in Los Angeles to see what you can do to make sure you are following all the rules as they change.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Despite controversy, Maryland medical marijuana grower on brink of starting cultivation, April 29, 2017, By Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun
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White House Will Step Up Federal Marijuana Enforcement, Feb. 27, 2017, Marijuana Attorney Blog