Maryland’s medical marijuana regulators have finally approved the final licenses for eight new medical marijuana cultivators to grow medical cannabis for patients. This will allow them to start cultivating more medical marijuana in marijuana.
Several companies said they are ready to begin growing immediately, while others say they will take a few weeks to get started. The CEO of the newly licensed grower Freestate Wellness in Howard County says “Now, we have a real industry,”.
Until Monday, just one of the 15 selected firms, ForwardGro, had received final permission to start cultivating medical weed, which was first legalized in the state in 2013. Even at full capacity, one firm could not possibly come close to producing nearly enough to support 102 planned dispensaries through the state of Maryland. The Marijuana industry research group New Frontier estimates that Maryland’s market will be worth $221 million annually by 2021. With the news that eight new medical marijuana cultivators the state is inching closer and closer to having the first batch of medicine available on the shelves.
Millstein whooped as the commission approved his license, the first of several outbursts that punctuated an otherwise stoic government meeting in Harford County. Members of Temescal Wellness of Maryland’s team fist-bumped eachother — one man danced in his seat and started rapidly texting some champagne bottle emojis — as the company’s license to start growing in Baltimore was finally approved.
Some of the eight new medical marijuana cultivators raced to meet Monday’s deadline to become operational. Curio Wellness of Baltimore County, which also received its license on Monday, has been waiting for more than two months for final approval to bring plants into its nine high-tech, climate-controlled growing chambers in a 56,000-square-foot Timonium warehouse in Maryland.
“As with any start up industry, you’re bound to have bumps in the road,” Curio CEO Michael Bronfein said in a recent interview. The last-minute approvals follow the bumpy start to a new industry that has been plagued with lawsuits, controversy, and multiple delays. Del. Cheryl Glenn, the Baltimore Democrat who chairs the General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus, has called for the commission to stop issuing licenses to growers.
Meanwhile, patients have been waiting for quite some time for medical marijuana to hit the shelves. The patient enrollment firm MetroXMD has enrolled hundreds of Maryland patients. And in total, as of Monday August 15th atleast 12,000 people have signed up to become eligible for medical marijuana and 400 medical providers had signed up to recommend it to them. Brian Lopez, the newly appointed chairman of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, said there was still a lot work to be done to bring online the remaining growers and all of the marijuana processors and dispensaries hoping to open across the state of Maryland. Only one dispensary, in Frederick, is licensed. More than 100 others are pending their stage 2 approvals to open their doors.
Monday was the deadline for growing companies to be operational, or risk losing their licenses completely. Nine companies are now permitted to grow medical weed in the state. Another two underwent final inspections on Monday. The future of the remaining four is not clear. The commission’s executive director Patrick Jameson said the panel will soon weigh whether to grant some extensions to those companies on Aug. 28.
Jameson stated he thought having trouble with local zoning laws was a valid reason to seek an extension for a license, but failing to raise capital or otherwise execute a business plan was not a valid reason to request an extension. The commission also approved the state’s first marijuana processors Monday, granting final licenses to four firms, three of which will also grow the drug in accompaniment.
The eight growers approved Monday join Anne Arundel County-based ForwardGro — the first company to receive a final license — and they represent a wide array of approaches to capitalize on the medical marijuana market in Maryland. Some of the eight new medical marijuana cultivators plan to exclusively be wholesalers in Maryland. Others have launched operations to grow and then process the drug. Others plan to open dispensaries that will sell specially branded products grown and processed in house to patients.
Of the eight new medical marijuana cultivators in Maryland, the commission granted final growing licenses to Freestate Wellness, Harvest of Maryland in Washington County, as well as to Green Leaf Medical and HMS Health, which are both in Fredrick County. Grower and processor licenses went to Curio Wellness in Timonium, Holistic in Prince George’s County and Carroll County’s Grassroots of Maryland, a company that has done business as Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness. Blair Wellness of Worcester County also won a final license to process medical marijuana.
Jameson, the commission’s executive director, said Grow West LLC and SunMed Growers received a final inspection from the state on Monday and are cleared to grow as well.