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Doctors and patients show strong interest in medical marijuana

Medical MarijuanaMany thousands of marijuana plants began growing in the last two weeks in Maryland, as the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission licensed eight more growers, to join the one licensed back in May.

Because the growers were not allowed to begin planting until they were fully licensed and the plants have a three-month or slightly longer growing cycle, the state is not likely to have substantial amounts of medical marijuana product available until November, as previously reported, or even December.

MMCC also licensed four processors on Aug. 14. They work as “middlemen” between growers and dispensaries and create products for administering and ingesting cannabis materials.

Forward Gro in the Baltimore area, the grower licensed in May, declined to say whether it had begun crops back then or waited until processors and dispensaries were available for its output. “Forward Gro is working diligently to get its first product to market,” said spokesperson Vicki Bendure of Bendure Communications. “Timing on processing and distribution is still to be determined.”

As of Aug. 22, the state still had only one fully-licensed dispensary: Wellness Solutions in Frederick.

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Medical marijuana registration begins today

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Medical Marijuana

People interested in using marijuana for medical purposes can register online as of April 10 at 9 a.m. with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

To obtain medical marijuana under the law enacted in 2013 by the state legislature, patients must register online with the commission on its website, mmcc.maryland.gov. Only patients whose last names begin with “A” through “L” may register the week of April 10 through April 16. Only those with last names starting with “M” through “Z” may register the week of April 17 through 23. Instructions on how to register will be on the homepage.

Starting April 24, patients may register regardless of last name.

So far, MMCC has licensed 15 growers, 102 dispensaries or stores and 15 processors. Growers are now building their indoor “farms” and will start growing plants, which have a three-month growing cycle, said Phil Goldberg, CEO of Green Leaf Medical LLC, one of the licensed growers. Green Leaf’s building is in Frederick, while its business offices are in Gaithersburg and Germantown.

Green Leaf, which is almost done raising $4 million from investors, expects its building to be done in late May and to have product ready to sell to stores in late September or early October, Goldberg said. Also on the Green Leaf team, he added, is Spencer Karson, a Maryland native who spent the last eight years in Colorado growing medical marijuana.

The commission website indicates that the first wave of growers and dispensaries is on a similar schedule and tells patients to expect September openings for the first stores. Registering now, the website says, “will allow patients time to establish a bona fide doctor-patient relationship months before any medicine is available.”

Physicians also must register with MMCC to prescribe medical marijuana in Maryland, under the law establishing the commission. Their normal prescribing privileges and registrations with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are not sufficient. The MMCC online physician registry is open, and the commission urges physicians to sign up.

Goldberg, president-elect of the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association, said the legislature assured there would be dispensaries throughout the state by directing MMCC to license two stores per legislative district. In addition, he noted, licensed growers can choose to have one dispensary in the county of their choice. Of the 15 licensed growers, 10 will run dispensaries as well (not Green Leaf).

Montgomery County will have 20 dispensaries. While the stores’ precise locations are not available yet, the licensed dispensaries and their legislative districts (“LD”) are listed here.

LD 14: B1 Earthgroup Inc.; Herbiculture, Inc.

LD 15: Cannabus LLC; Mikran, LLC.

LD 16: Budding Rose LLC; Chesapeake Alternatives LLC; Harvest of Maryland.

LD 17: HMS Health LLC; Maryland Compassionate Care & Wellness LLC; Peake ReLeaf LLC; Sugarloaf Enterprises.

LD 18: Columbia Care LLC; Holistic Industries LLC; PharmaCann LLC.

LD 19: Maryland Alternative Relief Inc.; Premium Medicine of Maryland LLC.

LD 20: GTI Maryland LLC; Maryland Medical Cannabis Co. LLC (M2C2 HerbaFi).

LD 39: Maryleaf LLC; MI Dispensary.

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