Four years ago, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that permitted the use and sale of medical marijuana, but establishing the infrastructure and procedures to enact that law has taken a long time.
This week the state rolled out its medical marijuana program and that dysfunction of administration remained evident. If you’re reading this in mid-December, chances are one of the handful of dispensaries to actually open may have already ran out of flower.
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But the state’s cannabis industry should not remain that way. More product will flood the shelves and patients will receive the medication they need. When that happens, here’s what you need to know.
Approval is dependent upon several factors. First potential patients must register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, then they will need written certification from a licensed doctor. A list of providers who recommend cannabis for treatment of qualifying patients can be found here.
Doctors are encouraged to grant that certification if they meet the following criteria:
Any condition that is severe, for which other medical treatments have been ineffective, and if the symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by the medical use of Cannabis. In addition, if the patient has a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes severe loss of appetite, wasting, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms, or glaucoma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Where Can I Buy?
As of Dec. 1, 2017, any licensed company can receive medical cannabis shipments to sell to qualified patients. However the state only licensed 10 of the 92 dispensaries was expected to have. Of those 10 licensed dispensaries, only six have opened at the time of publication and none of them are within Baltimore city limits. And of those six, three have had to temporarily shut down due to inventory issues, though two have re-opened at some point.
The Baltimore Sun provides a handy map for marijuana dispensary locations that includes addresses and what inventory they have.
What’s The Price?
The prices run about standard to what you find in dispensaries in states like Washington or Colorado. But if you have no experience with a dispensary, check the figures below.
The price varies. At Kannavis, a dispensary in Ijamsville, dried product sells for about $50 to $60 per eighth-ounce, or $100 to $112 per quarter-ounce. A half-gram vape cartridge of extract from the shop costs $90.
Will The Program Eventually Expand?
That seems up for debate. A Baltimore City Circuit judge is currently hearing a case that will determine if state employees were acting outside of the law when determining what companies would receive lucrative state licensing contracts to grow cannabis.
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In addition, the powerful Black Caucus in the Maryland General Assembly may “take a knee” if lawmakers don’t work to expand the medical marijuana industry to include more business representation for people of color. Caucus Chairwoman Cheryl Glenn claimed that when the state was handing out licenses, “black folks were put at the back of the line.” African-Americans comprise a third of the state’s population, though no African-American-led firms were among the first 15 preliminary licenses handed out by the state.
All this could come to a hand in January when the legislature reconvenes. For now, the future of cannabis in Maryland seems as unsettled as the past.