It’s been four years since the legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland and for patients there is still no relief in sight for those in need. On Monday the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced that they were no longer going to be able to approve an unlimited number of processing licenses. Processing licenses in the state of Maryland refers to the method used or breakdown of the cannabis plant into a consumable form.
The commission originally projected it would start awarding licenses to grow cannabis for medical use in January, however due to the overwhelming response the fifteen-person commission had received they had to push off time lines by at least four months. By November 12th 2015 they had received a total of 882 various applications from growing to processing and dispensary.
This process had then again been stalled slightly by the sudden resignation of Executive Director Hannah Byron in December whose position was not filled until April 2016 by former Maryland state trooper Patrick Jameson. These types of slowdowns in the process have been leading to increased frustration among many business owners, patients and parents of seriously ill children.
Earlier last week the commission decided to hold a meeting in complete secrecy and came to a resolution to this enormous response from the public, angering many Maryland residents as they want complete transparency throughout this process. After meeting last week the Commission voted to limit the number of processing applications to just fifteen. Commission member Harry Robshaw III suggested this change and the commission agreed unanimously after minimal discussion.
Maryland state law had already limited the number of growing licenses to fifteen and felt this change would help to ease the burden on regulators. The commission says the cap will make it easier for regulators to carry out inspections. They also stated that they felt the cap could later be eliminated or changed to accommodate the growing industry. The commission said this decision was made because of the overwhelming amount of applications for processing licenses.
This was the first time the Commission had met with applicants this year. Their meeting came just weeks after Governor Hogan had announced the appointment of Patrick Jameson as the new Executive Director of the MMCC. Applicants for processing licenses that were in attendance became frustrated as the Commission members were unclear about when the first growing licenses would be issued. Stating at first it would be late summer to early fall, to then saying the applicants would receive licenses within a few weeks of completion of the evaluations.
According to the commission, application evaluations are expected to be completed in early July. If the licenses are given out by this expect timeline Maryland cannabis patients can still expect a long wait to gain access to their medicine as the time needed to grow and process medical cannabis will lead to patients not being able to obtain any medicine in the state until well into the summer of 2017.