While none of Maryland’s 102 forthcoming dispensaries are dishing out product just yet, demand for medical cannabis only keeps growing.
About 13,700 residents have registered as patients with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, according to figures provided by the regulatory agency on Friday. An additional 505 caregivers have also been approved to obtain cannabis for clients.
The data signal demand hasn’t flattened since the commission opened up the patient registration process in April. The combined number of patients and caregivers has more than tripled since May 18, which was about one month from the registration start date.
While dispensaries — the purveyors of the medicine sought by 14,000 people so far — still haven’t opened their doors, a half-dozen have received full licenses, according to the commission’s website. Two are in Frederick County; Allegany, Montgomery, St. Mary’s and Wicomico counties have one apiece. A total of 102 dispensaries were pre-approved during the spring, 11 of them in Baltimore City.
Each dispensary, grower and processor must clear multiple approval rounds with the commission in order to move from preliminary to full licensure. The odds appear to be in their favor; so far, the commission has denied a license to just one of its 15 pre-selected growers, Dorchester County-based MaryMed LLC. The Sun‘s Erin Cox reported in June that commissioners were concerned the business wouldn’t properly safeguard its medicine.
Twelve of the 15 originally pre-approved processors have received full licenses. Mary-jo Mather, administrator and spokeswoman for the commission, said the other three are “still working on full licensure requirements, and have received extensions.”
One combined grower, processor, and dispensary plans to operate out of the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore, according to the commission’s list. Temescal Wellness’ address is listed on the ninth floor of 1 E. Pratt Street. The firm has a rare opportunity to bring its product from seed to shelf, so long as it receives a full license to dispense product.
Neighborhoods are slowly learning where these pharmacy-like businesses will be opening thanks to the design of the state’s medical cannabis framework, which doesn’t require operators to pin down their locations before they are pre-approved. So far, operators in Hampden, Federal Hill and Wyman Park have made their locations public.
In Wyman Park, where Medical Products and Services is setting up on Keswick Road, some residents initially pushed back against the the firm’s plans to move in, even asking city council members to modify Baltimore’s zoning due to the fallout. The operators and neighbors have since drawn up a memorandum of understanding to appease concerns about safety and security, according to leaders from the Wyman Park Neighborhood Association. The agreement hadn’t been finalized as of last week.
Forty-two months have passed since Maryland first enacted medical cannabis, the longest rollout on record in the United States.
Opening dates for dispensaries remain up in the air. Leah Heise, owner of Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute on Falls Road, said she predicts her dispensary will open in the first quarter of 2018.
Mather said it will depend on how quickly they become fully licensed and when their growers and/or processors finish their first harvest and pass any product inspections.
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