As Maryland's medical marijuana program ramps up, new canna-businesses are preparing the infrastructure to provide cannabis to patients. There are currently around 4,000 patients and 100 caregivers registered to participate in the state's program. While there is currently no way for patients to legally purchase medical marijuana at this time, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has already awarded 30 preliminary licenses to companies to grow or process marijuana.
One of the companies that received preliminary approval to grow medical cannabis is ForwardGro, who are building a massive greenhouse in Anne Arundel County. The greenhouse covers a full acre, and is expected to grow between 7,000 to 9,000 pounds of cannabis every year. “We're in the final stages of construction and we're getting ready to be inspected,” said the company's CFO, Gail Rand.
Rand has a seven-year-old son who suffers from epilepsy, and has registered as a caregiver to provide medical marijuana. "I got involved in 2013 to advocate for a medical cannabis bill for him,” Rand said. “I'm really excited that this program is moving forward and that he will soon have access to this medication.”
Once marijuana is grown at the greenhouse, it must undergo a two-month drying and curing process, after which it will be processed by a different company. All of the companies that have been pre-approved to handle medical marijuana are moving into Stage Two of the approval process. In this stage, the companies undergo criminal background checks, complete regulatory requirements, and secure local zoning approvals.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission expects that medical marijuana should be available to patients by the end of this summer.