Maryland is on pace to set a record for taking the longest time of any state to get its medical marijuana program up and running.
Concerns about delays have surfaced before, and every time someone asks, it seems like full access to the drug is still about a year away. That’s still true today, and prospective patients and entrepreneurs alike are getting antsy.
Katishi Maake and Jake Eisenberg of Capital News Service assembled a graphic with data from ProCon.org that shows Maryland has spent 30 months getting its program together. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the original bill for now-expanded program into law in April 2014. A lot has changed since then, but there are still no legally operating growers or dispensaries in the state.
The District of Columbia and New Jersey both took 34 months to get their programs up and running. New Hampshire comes in third at 32 months, followed by Maryland at 30 months. However, Maryland is the only one without an operating program, and the state isn’t expected begin offering medical cannabis until at least summer 2017. A majority of the 26 states with medical marijuana programs took less than a year to make the drug available, and three immediately started offering it to patients after their laws had been signed.
Some of the delay has come from the state’s lengthy selection process for narrowing down the number of growers and dispensers to just 15 apiece. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission made its final picks for those 30 spots this past August, but they did not please the applicants. Several are suing the commission, alleging its selection process was unfair.
Additionally, black legislative leaders believe the commission has excluded minority-owned businesses from its final picks. They’re planning to introduce emergency legislation that would ask the committee to restart the whole process, The Washington Post reports.
The commission’s chairman has defended the selection process in a letter on the MMCC’s website that defends the body’s commitment to racial and ethnic diversity.
Even without a complete redo of the selection process, with at least two companies suing the state, the rollout could become even more painfully slow. Unfortunately, 2017 could be a long year for prospective medical pot patients and businesses alike.