After 4 years of delays, Maryland has finally issued one of the 15 licenses for production of medical marijuana. The company, ForwardGro, was first approved for a preliminary license in August, 2016, and hope to start production soon and have cannabis available by early fall.
Gail Rand, the company CEO, was one of the lobbyists that helped bring medical marijuana to a reality in the Atlantic Coast state. She was driven by her own son’s epileptic seizures to seek legalization of the plant. The original law passed in 2013 required academic institutions be involved in the treatment, but none stepped up to participate. The law was revamped in 2014 and created a medical marijuana advisory commission to take up the task of administering the program and start the program from the bottom up.
One of the companies that received preliminary approval had their license suspended due to their failure to supply the proper documents related to their parent company, Vireo Health, who have been accused of moving half a million worth of concentrate products from their Minnesota operation to their New York business. One of the former company officials is facing felony drug trafficking charges in Minnesota.
Of the other 13 companies left with preliminary licenses, none have requested final approval from the state. Several are expected to be ready in about thirty days, according to Jake Van Wingerden, the president of SunMed Growers and the chairman of the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association. He believes they will be ready for final licensing by July.
“We couldn’t be more excited, especially in light of all the potential delays,” Van Wingerden told the Baltimore Sun. “We’re extremely happy that patients of Maryland can finally stop waiting. It’s been four years.”
The commission will not release any information on the status of licensing other producers. Controversy erupted late last year when the final preliminary licenses were announced. Racial discrimination was suspected by some companies and the Legislative Black Caucus in Maryland demanded the issuance of additional licenses to minority businesses. But, the legislature failed to act on their request.
The disparity in issuing licenses for cultivation brought two lawsuits from companies that were denied licenses even though they achieved a higher ranking in the states license scoring system. The commission claimed they gave the licenses to other producers to create more “geographic” diversity. The lawsuits could threaten the licensing that has already occurred and force the state to start over again.
Maryland’s medical marijuana program already has more than 6,500 applicants and over 275 doctors are registered that will recommend the treatment.