MD: Regulators Hope To Prune Long List Of Marijuana Dispensary Applicants By Nov. 21


Maryland medical marijuana regulators are set to decide Nov. 21 which companies can open long-awaited dispensaries where patients can legally buy the drug.

While the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission previously said that it hopes the product will hit shelves by summer, the timeline is unclear, with various controversies and other hurdles threatening delays before businesses can start operating.

In August, the commission awarded preliminary licenses to 15 companies to grow marijuana and 15 companies to process it into medical products such as oils and pills. Those companies have up to a year to pass inspections and vetting before they can start to operate.

Approving dispensaries is trickier.

Aspiring marijuana entrepreneurs can only operate one dispensary, and some applied to dozens of communities to boost their chances.

The law caps the number of medical marijuana outlets to two per state Senate district, or up to 94. Regulators could also authorize dispensaries at cultivation centers.

The Regional Economic Studies Institute of Towson scored and ranked more than 800 applications to open dispensaries, which were reviewed by subject matter experts on factors such as proposed security measures and medical training policies.

The commission voted Friday on guidelines for selecting dispensaries that call for a formula to match dispensary applicants to Senate districts based on the rankings of their application materials and preferred locations.

While the commission is scheduled to vote on awarding dispensary preapprovals Nov. 21, it has an additional 10 business days to announce the identities of the winners.

The deluge of marijuana business applications, twice as many as regulators expected, has driven up the time and costs to roll out the program more than three years after its legalization.

Three companies denied licenses to grow marijuana are challenging the state in court. And the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is considering legislation to upend or reform the medical marijuana program after regulators failed to authorize any African-American-led companies to produce the drug, even though the legalization law calls for racial and ethnic diversity in the industry.

Commission officials previously said they would have a chance to further diversify the industry when awarding dispensary licenses, but the guidelines approved Friday are silent on plans for racial diversity.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Regulators Hope To Prune Long List Of Marijuana Dispensary Applicants By Nov. 21
Author: Fenit Nirappil
Contact: The Washington Post
Photo Credit: Evelyn Hockstein
Website: The Washington Post