Maryland: First Licensed Medical Marijuana Grow Operation Approved
By Michael Bachara
On Wednesday, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the commission that oversees Maryland’s fledgling medical cannabis program, voted to approve the state’s first full license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The Stage 2 license, which was awarded to ForwardGro LLC, is a final approval from regulators for the cultivation of plants. The approved business will have to wait for dispensaries to be inspected and licensed before it can sell cannabis products to approved patients to comply with state law.
Gail Rand, chief financial officer and patient advocate for ForwardGro, said: “The patients of Maryland will finally have an opportunity to try this medicine that could help tens of thousands of people.”
Rand, whose son suffers from epilepsy, became passionately involved in the Maryland legislature in 2013 as a parent advocate. She is the founder of a parental advocacy group for the legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland for children with epilepsy.
“A new industry in Maryland has been officially launched,” said Patrick Jameson, Executive Director of the commission, "They can start to grow immediately. Medical cannabis production will change the face of Maryland and will have a profound economic and health impact on the entire region.”
"This is the most delightful part of being on this commission," Commissioner Saundra Washington said moments before the panel approved the first medical marijuana growing license. "To see this day finally come to fruition is extremely emotional for those of us who have advocated for this."
"We're glad to see that Maryland regulators are finally getting medicine into the hands of patients, who have been waiting too long," said Kate Bell, a lawyer with the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group.
Maryland has been among the slowest states in the country to establish a functioning medical marijuana program. As of Wednesday, 6,500 patients had applied for the state's medical marijuana program and 276 physicians had registered to recommend the drug, according to commission officials.
Step-by-step instructions on how to register as a patient and legally obtain medical cannabis are available through the commission’s website: mmcc.maryland.gov.
Any Maryland resident — or qualified patients living in the state to receive medical treatment — is eligible to register with the commission as a patient or caregiver.
Patients’ physicians must approve medical cannabis as a treatment option for qualifying medical conditions and issue a written certification for patients to obtain legal medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary, once open.