Maryland Finally Gets a Chance at Medical Cannabis

Industry Lisa Rough 12/11/2017
The demand for medical cannabis in Maryland has exceeded the supply.

After more than four long years of missteps, lawsuits, and uncertainty, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced the official licensing of ten medical cannabis dispensaries, and doors opened to patients for the first time last week.

Potomac Holistics and Allegany Medical were among the first dispensaries to open doors to patients, who braved the cold and long lines for a chance to access medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, due to the high demand and limited supply, dispensaries were only able to service only a fraction of the 12,491 registered patients before running out of cannabis product.

Bill Askenazi, owner of Potomac Holistics, said that the dispensary managed to serve over 700 patient before running out of product. “It should be replenished in a few weeks.”

Askenazi, a Maryland attorney, spoke of his reasons for entering the cannabis industry. “We had a personal family experience with illness, and I saw the medicinal healing qualities of the medicine, and we thought we could help a lot of folks out there, especially those battling opioid addiction, and wanted to do some good, take our skills and translate them into a dispensary.”

Longtime cannabis activist and newly registered patient, Jen Beedie, described the mixed emotions she experienced over the long-awaited opening. “After endless delays, many caused by the commission itself, we finally got to opening day. I was happy to have my moment in the sun. Finally, vindication that I was not a criminal!” she said.

But the experience wasn’t all sunshine and roses. “Lines were like Black Friday! We got there at 11am when they opened and didn’t leave until 4,” Beedie said.

Askenazi spent over a year trying to open doors, and plans to re-open doors as soon as stock is replenished. “We make sure that the product that we sell is the safest product, the highest quality,” he told Green Flower. “We’re helping a lot of folks, demand is high, we have a professionally trained staff, and we’re just excited to be part of the industry in Maryland.”

It's been a long, bumpy road for Maryland medical cannabis

The Natalie LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law in 2013 by former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, but the law faced a bumpy road to implementation – facing lawsuits, resignation of the Commission’s Executive Director, and poor funding from the state.

A lawsuit was brought forth by several applicants that were overlooked, with support from the Legislative Black Caucus, on the grounds that the Commission did not include enough minority business owners in the licensing process, one stipulation of the law.  

The lawsuit halted the licensing process and forced the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to reconsider previously rejected applicants.

Another lawsuit was recently brought forth and once again delayed the opening of the medical cannabis program. This time, the lawsuit argued that the commission had not been clear in their selection procedure of choosing growers based on their location in the state.

In addition, Executive Director Patrick Jameson resigned from the position just days before the opening. This is the second time the Executive Director has resigned since the program’s induction, and over the summer, Governor Larry Hogan also replaced 10 out of the 16 members of Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

It’s been a turbulent period of upheaval and change leading to these opening days, but the future is looking bright for medical cannabis patients in Maryland.

Here is a list of the first licensed dispensaries in Maryland, and you can find the full list of licensees at the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission site:

  • Allegany Medical Marijuana, Allegany County
  • Chesapeake Alternatives, Montgomery County
  • Cannabus LLC, Montgomery County
  • Growing Ventures LLC, Howard County
  • GTI Maryland LLC, Montgomery County
  • K&R Holdings Inc., Frederick County
  • Maryland Wellness Access LLC, Howard County
  • Peninsula Alternative Health LLC, Wicomico County
  • Southern Maryland Relief LLC, St. Mary's County
  • Wellness Institute of Maryland, Frederick County

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