A large number of applications to legally grow, process or dispense medical marijuana that were received by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission will delay the program’s rollout, according to the the executive director of the state commission.
By the November 6th deadline, the commission had received 882 applications for grower, processor and dispenser licenses. “In light of the exceptional response from license candidates, we will extend the application review period,” said commission Executive Director Hannah Byron in a statement. “The commission will provide an updated program schedule in the near future.”
There were 705 applications to open dispensaries. But the commission said a “significant percentage” of those came from applicants who submitted multiple requests, one for each of the state’s 47 senatorial districts, an apparent attempt by prospective shop owners to improve their chances of securing a license. Byron also said the high number of applications will ensure the commission has a strong pool of qualified candidates and that the program will be self-funded, as intended by the Legislature.
After a comprehensive review of applications, the commission will award a maximum of 15 licenses for marijuana growers. It also will decide on up to two dispensary licenses in each of the state’s 47 Senate districts. Processer licenses are not limited.
Maryland approved medical marijuana in 2013, but a dispute over which entities could grow and sell it delayed the launch of the program for more than a year. The law required academic medical centers to run the medical marijuana programs, but none stepped forward. Last year the law was changed to allow certified doctors to recommend marijuana for patients with debilitating, chronic and severe illnesses.
The state also plans to let patients from outside Maryland become eligible to receive the drug by seeing a Maryland doctor, another reason applicants said the market is attractive. Once all of the applications are reviewed, the commission said on Thursday, it will issue preliminary license approvals.
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