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Time to Turn on the Lights: Maryland Marijuana Growers Given the Go Ahead

For those of you following the legalization of medical marijuana in Maryland, you know, it’s been a long road to sow. Luckily, the seed for operative marijuana business was finally planted within the last year when the state pre-approved several hundred marijuana related businesses ranging from growers, deliverers, transporters, and retailers.

It’s finally time for weed growers in Maryland to break ground—quite literally—and nurture this burgeoning industry, which is expected to reach $221 million annually by 2021.

Giving the greenlight to cannabis entrepreneurs is one of the more momentous steps in Maryland’s medical marijuana saga, and marks a pivotal moment in which Maryland turned from a state with zero legal marijuana businesses to a state with several hundred marijuana businesses, each poised to be public protected, and fully legal.

Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), a group created to develop policies, procedures, and regulations, is responsible for granting the publicly-approved designees. Their committee awarded 102 dispensaries with the go ahead last month, and provided another 14 firms with an official stamp of pre-approval to actually develop the supply chain—aka grow pot.

And my, how things have moved quickly since then.

After being listed as pre-approved, it was go time, now (!) for state-approved marijuana growers. Time to turn on those lights, and kick on the fans, because suddenly now the state means business.

On Monday, September 4 state officials toured the facilities of 14 “growers” as a part of the new inspection process. Growers had to demonstrate full operations and compliance with state regulation. Of those 14 companies only nine “passed” and are, “now permitted to grow medical marijuana.” Another two are receiving final inspections. The status of the remaining four is not clear, the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday September 7.

That’s huge.

Not just in the sense that the state finally means business, but in the fact that there are nine facilities that can actually produce revenue generating, sellable weed.

Without legally grown cannabis, no other aspect of the medical marijuana business chain can functionally operate in Maryland: there are no cannabis products to transport, sell, prescribe, or use. Patients suffering from any number of the Maryland’s qualifying medical conditions [link to StickyGuide FAQ], however, will soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief from the benefits medical cannabis.

In fact, that’s many sighs of relief. Already, 12,000 people have registered as a potential medical marijuana patients, and another 400 medical providers have registered, too.

The several thousand patient/provider registrations only hints at the demand for this quarter-billion dollar industry in Maryland. Perhaps it best reflects the consumer side. But the business side of the equation is also erupting with sure fire signs of a healthy market.

Two years ago, prospective marijuana venturists applied with the MMCC in hopes of securing one of the state’s lucrative business licenses between September 28 and November 6, 2015. In that one week span the Commission received 1081 total business applications, including:
146 grower applications
124 processor applications
811 dispensary applications

Can you even imagine that in another emerging market? Imagine if there were 811 movie theater applications submitted to this state in a week’s time. Or even restaurants. That kind of anteing up is noteworthy.

Not to mention, the legislative structure supporting medical marijuana in Maryland continues to make strides. Since the notable House Bill 881, the "Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission was passed, additional state legislation has also been signed.

For instance House Bill 0104, effective June 01, 2017, opened the doors for a broader inclusion of health providers to recommend marijuana as a drug treatment for patients. The bill expanded authorization of health providers permitted to issue written certifications to dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. At least 20 have already signed up.

However, despite the inch of forward progress, the Maryland medical marijuana machine is not fully oiled, or even operative. The Commission clearly states on its website, “MEDICAL CANNABIS IS CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND,” and business owners should not feel free from mar or setback.

For instance, Maryland regulators are currently being reviewed by state courts in their lawfulness in picking companies for pre-approval, and even at the federal level the House Rules Committee continues to question protections for medical marijuana patients and banks.

That said, the state process has never been as mature, tested, proven, cultivated, and ready to go. So, Marylanders, hang tight. Medical marijuana is nigh. We are right there with you, ready for it.

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Comments

1
Posted 12/1/17 by:
Dennis
Maryland's economy will be boosted with the legalization of marijuana. I'm sure we will see a lot more entrepreneurs and business listings in the marijuana industry. When the state process is as mature and tested, good things happen.
2
Posted 1/25/18 by:
Chris
The tax money gained from this should help with the terrible and sad state that the Baltimore city schools are in. It could also be used to improve infrastructure throughout the state. Many ways to spread the windfall. Maryland should totally legalize it and they will get a lot more tax revenue.
3
Posted 7/19/18 by:
David
Freeing up the jails and prisons of needlessly arrested individuals, for smoking a harmless herb to treat their conditions, is the real benefit, from legalization. The price to house and feed one inmate is not worth all the hassle to tax payers, who have to pay to imprison the wrongly incarcerated. I do agree the revenue gained, at the state level, will make a difference funding various previously underfunded situations. But all of this was propaganda, drummed up by the federal government and once they are called into check, we will finally accomplish what should never have been drummed up at all.

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