Medical marijuana has been legal in Maryland since 2014, but thanks to incredibly slow regulatory processes and a number of lawsuits, it’s taken almost four years to get off the ground. Now, with almost 13,000 state residents already signed up to access the natural medicine, the state’s first plants have finally started growing, with ganjapreneurs and regulators expecting dispensary shelves to be full of cannabis products by the start of 2018.
According to the Washington Post, at least two out of the state’s 12 approved cannabis cultivators have planted pot under the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.
“This program is launched now,” Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, said. “We have growers, processors and a dispensary, and we have a lab. The market will determine how this moves forward.”
But while it is true that Maryland has one dispensary ready to stock their display cases, Wellness Institute of Maryland located in Frederick, MD, the rest of the state’s 100 or so prospective dispensaries with preliminary approval are still awaiting final approval. Those shops have until December to find a suitable location, staff and undergo state inspections.
Despite the dispensary hiccups, though, Maryland’s prospective patients are ready for state lawmakers’ regulatory game of musical chairs to be over, with an eye towards the benefits of the long-promised cannabis access.
“When we are able to go to a dispensary anywhere and pick it up, we are all ready for it,” Jennifer Porcari, a Cheverly, Maryland based mother who hopes to treat her 10 year-old daughter’s epilepsy with medical marijuana, told the Post. “They have spent so much time on it, it’s going to be a great system. We just need it to go, go, go.”
For now, though, Porcari and her peers will simply have to wait for nature to do its job. One of the two companies getting a head start on their cultivation, ForwardGro, recently posted a photo on social media of a state tracking tag denoting one of their plants as number “000000001” in Maryland’s medical marijuana system.
At the Green Leaf Medical Center in Frederick County, chief executive Philip Goldberg is just glad to see the program finally up and running after years of red tape and skepticism.
“We knew it was going to take time. Did we think it was going to take four years? No,” Goldberg said. “But it feels really good to finally be able to put seeds in the ground and start growing.”