On Wednesday, Maryland regulators approved the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary, permitting Wellness Institute of Maryland, a Frederick-based company, to start taking “pre-order.”
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission and Michael Kline, owner of the company, are making sure everything is prepared for the first crop, which is expected to be ready sometime after Labor Day. The company will begin seeing its first patients on Thursday, Kline said.
Just minutes are receiving approval from the commission, Kline said, “We are fully equipped to deliver medicine as soon as we have it.”
Medical marijuana was approved in Maryland over four years ago, but only a single firm has been given authorization to grow it.
Initially, the commission was scheduled to vote on a second grower on Wednesday. However, the vote was delayed due to requests of additional information from the firm, Curio Wellness in Baltimore County. The purpose of the request or issues was not discussed publicly.
Michael Bronfein, Curio CEO, said the panel’s decision to delay the approval was “regrettable.” The firm was approved to grow and distribute medical cannabis on June 14.
“Our state of the art facility is ready,” Bronfein said. “Every day the commission fails to provide our state two license delays patients access to safe, reliable and effective medicine.”
The 14 remaining companies chosen to grow and process medical marijuana have only six weeks to secure a final license. If the final licenses are not granted, the authorized companies could very well lose out on the state’s booming marijuana industry.
The commission plans to increase the frequency of their meetings in the coming weeks, so final licenses can be approved as each applicant passes a final state inspection.
Maryland’s medical marijuana program has met much controversy from the very beginning. Several lawsuits have been filed against the state, alleging the commission failed to follow the law and considered the applicant’s race, when handing out preliminary grower licenses. No minority-owned companies were awarded preliminary growing or processing licenses.
An estimated 9,000 patients have already signed up for the program. There are also concerns looming around the number of doctors that have registered to recommend the drug. There are currently 16,000 practicing physicians in Maryland and fewer than 300 have registered.
New legislation approved last month permits nurse practitioners, podiatrists, midwives and dentists to recommend the drug. Fewer than 20 of those health care providers responded by signing up.