Medical marijuana growing in Colorado

It’s official: At least one company finally has the state’s full approval to grow some weed.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the state’s 16-member regulatory body for its emerging marijuana program, yesterday approved a grower’s license for Stevensville-based Forward Gro.

“This is an exciting moment and the milestone the Commission has been diligently working toward,” said Chairman Paul Davies in a statement. “This represents the beginning of helping suffering patients get the care they so desperately need.”

ForwardGro, founded in 2013, is one of 15 companies that received preliminary approval from the commission last year to grow cannabis in Maryland. Another 15 firms at that time received pre-approval to process cannabis products, and 102 companies — nearly a dozen in Baltimore City — were given pre-approval to dispense it last December.

The company is headed by leading cannabis industry entrepreneurs Gary Mangum and Mike McCarthy, anesthesiologist Deb Kimless, medical cannabis advocate and Annapolis-based accountant Gail Rand and international businessman Dan Ramaty. It was the only pre-approved grower in Anne Arundel County.

To move past “Stage One” approval, companies need to satisfy requirements from a commission inspection, build their actual facilities and complete criminal background checks. They also have to show their facilities and operations comply with all local laws, zoning and fire codes, Department of Agriculture standards and other state regulations.

This week was the first time the commission was expected to begin issuing full licenses. Even on just the first day, not all of them fared as well. Shortly after giving ForwardGro the thumbs up, the commission stopped MaryMed LLC, a planned Dorchester County grower, processor and dispensary, from moving forward in the application process.

The company, one of 10 growers that were also pre-approved to dispense their products, has been asked to provide “further information…concerning their applications,” the commission said in a statement. Until the regulatory body gets that info, all three of its Stage One licenses are suspended.

Earlier this week, Annapolis-based Alternative Medicine Maryland filed an emergency motion in Baltimore City Circuit Court asking a judge to grant an injunction stopping the commission from issuing final licenses.

The aspiring pot growers, whose application was denied by the commission last summer, argued members ignored a component of the state’s medical cannabis law requiring them to account for diversity when making their picks for pre-approvals last year.

The goal with Monday’s motion was to stop the commission from moving forward with issuing any full licenses this week.

The commission said in a statement that it will proceed with granting full licenses to growers and processors “in public meetings, on a rolling basis, as pre-approved companies complete their regulatory requirements.”

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...