Southern Maryland Stiffed In Medical Marijuana Selection

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Annapolis, MD – When the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission awarded permits for the growing and processing of medicinal marijuana Monday, Aug. 15, there were more than a few applicants from Southern Maryland who felt completely left out.

The Tri-County area was all but excluded from the medical marijuana growing and processing aspect of this budding new industry.

Most spent thousands of dollars to become certified through training as Maryland prepared for its medical marijuana push and can’t reapply for another two years.

“It’s a shame,” said Kevin Merillat of Calvert County. “At the beginning – and I attended MMCC meetings from day one – it started out as focused on small business, it was touted as a grass-roots industry. It ended up becoming something completely different,” he added, suggesting that politics and investment from some heavy hitters polluted the process.

“This is my hundred-thousand dollar book,” Jim Martin of St. Mary’s County pointed out as he displayed a folder every bit of three inches thick.

“I don’t believe the process was fair,” Martin stated. “We went through all of this expense and training, above and beyond, coming up with a business plan, security plan, a human relations plan, flying out to Colorado and Oregon to meet with growers; we were blown out of the water and not even considered.”

The thing Martin said astounds him is that Washington and Frederick counties both got two grow permits each.

“How can they get two permits in each of those counties and Southern Maryland doesn’t even get one?” he asked.

“One business in Prince George’s County got a grower’s permit,” Merillat said. “I guess that’s supposed to represent Southern Maryland.”

“It’s certainly disappointing for these businesses that have invested thousands of dollars and an untold number of hours in training, but unfortunately, business is risky by nature,” said Debra Jones, chief of business development for Charles County, the only Southern Maryland county awarded.

FGM Processing LLC was granted processing pre-approval for Charles.

“I think the commission even came out earlier this year with a statement that they did not expect so many applications for such a limited number of opportunities,” Jones said.

Fifteen permits were issued for growers and another 15 for processing facilities.

There were 145 applicants for growing permits, 124 for processing and another 811 applicants for dispensaries, which have not been awarded yet.

“There are supposed to be two dispensaries per each legislative district,” Jones said. “The announcement made on Monday was for license pre-approval.”

“The process was not real equitable,” Merillat suggested.

He pointed out those who did receive pre-approval for licensing, one of them a former Anne Arundel County sheriff and superintendent of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, was troubling to those who did not.

“The question we’re asking is why are all of these law enforcement components all of a sudden putting themselves in the industry and receiving pre-approval?” Merillat asked.

“There was not one Cinderella story that came out of the selections,” he said.

“We wanted to do something to provide good jobs and most of all, to have an opportunity to give patients an alternative medicine and to do it legally, with as much real compassion and caring as possible,” Martin said.

Merillat said he plans to move forward with “Plan A,” which was to manufacture cannabis-related grow kits and associated apparatus for market and sale in the District of Columbia and states where the drug is legal.

“There are five states voting this fall whether or not to legalize marijuana,” he said, saying that once Maryland decriminalized marijuana to a mere fine for possession of 10 grams or less, they had to decriminalize the paraphernalia as well.

His plans are to manufacture and press on regardless.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission did note Aug. 15 that should supply not meet demand, other pre-approvals may be awarded before 2018.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Southern Maryland Stiffed In Medical Marijuana Selection
Author: Joseph Norris
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Photo Credit: The Bay Net
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