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Maryland Grants First-Ever License to Grow Medical Cannabis

With the landmark legalization of marijuana in Maryland has come to a raft of policy changes, the latest of which is the first medical grower’s license, granted on May 17, 2017. The Stage 2 license was awarded to ForwardGro LLC, which can now move forward in establishing its business.

The license, which enables the company to plant marijuana legally, also allows the business to take other steps, including include raising capital and acquiring real estate, installing equipment and hiring staff. During this phase, they must also complete regulatory requirements.

What This Means for Maryland Medical Cannabis Patients & Its Economy

“A new industry in Maryland has officially been launched,” Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Executive Director Patrick Jameson said in a statement announcing the news. “They can start to grow immediately.”

Jameson added that “Medical cannabis production will change the face of Maryland and will have a profound economic and health impact on the entire region.”

Gail Rand, chief financial officer and patient advocate for ForwardGro, echoes this, pointing out that “the patients of Maryland will finally have an opportunity to try this medicine that could help tens of thousands of people.”

Rand is referring to the raft of health benefits attendant on the use of smoking marijuana. According to the American Cancer Society, these include calming nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy; relieving pain from damaged nerves; improving food intake in HIV patients; decreasing the amount of pharmaceutical medication needed for various types of pain; and even slowing cancer growth and promoting cell death in some types of disease.

With so many perks stemming from its use, it’s no wonder patients and growers alike are excited to get the process started.

It has been a long road, however. House Bill 881 passed in 2014, legalizing the use of Maryland medical cannabis for patients who had a prescription. It wasn’t until August 2016, however, that applications were accepted for the medical grower’s license.

LATEST UPDATE: A Temporary Halt & Other Roadblocks

Even now, the program is still struggling and running into delays. The most recent example is the temporary halt to the licensing program. As of May 25, 2017, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams put a restraining order on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, barring it from issuing new licenses on the grounds of discrimination.

The plaintiff is Alternative Medicine Maryland, an African American-owned company that has been denied a license. According to the judge, it will suffer a loss of business once other licenses are granted if it does not also receive one.

That isn’t the only point of contention. Others allege that the majority of the companies that were granted preapproval back in August of 2016 had political ties.

Ideally, these will prove to be temporary roadblocks and will bring with them greater diversification in the approval of licenses.

For now, ForwardGro LLC will still have to wait for inspecting and licensing before it can begin to sell its products, which it hopes to do in late summer or early fall. It will sell its harvest both in pure form as well as processed into oils, tinctures, and vapors, and will supply clients directly as well as dispensaries.

 

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