Maryland pre-approves licenses for 102 medical marijuana dispensaries

 Maryland pre-approves licenses for 102 medical marijuana dispensariesMaryland’s medical marijuana commission approved 102 dispensaries for preliminary licenses Monday.

The dispensaries were selected from a pool of 811 applications submitted to the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission. According to state regulations, the commission is able to approve two dispensaries for each of the state’s 47 senatorial districts.

The recommendations — which included two dispensaries for all but two senatorial districts — were made by the dispensary evaluation subcommittee. The committee also pre-approved 10 dispensary licenses for some of the growers and processors who were approved for those licenses earlier this year. The commission also discussed new efforts it would be making to address concerns about a perceived lack of diversity in the ongoing pre-approval process.

The approved dispensary applicants will undergo preliminary background checks before their names are released Dec. 9. They will then move into the second stage of the approval process.

Evaluations and district matches were made using a process known as the Gale-Shapely algorithm. It matches applicants to districts based on how well the applicants rank on a scoring evaluation as well as the list of preferred districts they submitted. It is the same algorithm that is used to match your computer to the best or nearest server, said Shannon Moore, chairperson of the subcommittee.

“I’m very excited, on behalf of all the patients waiting for medicine in the state of Maryland, that we are able to move forward with this,” Moore said.

After pre-approvals are awarded, the commission will conduct financial history and background checks. If the commission discovers any party has legal, financial or compliance issues, an application may be suspended until the issues are resolved. All applicants will have 365 days to complete any additional application requirements for final licensure.

Costs associated with opening a dispensary in Maryland include a $4,000 stage-two application fee, an $80,000 licensing fee — which must be renewed every other year — and an estimated $500,000 for initial build-out and start-up costs for businesses.

This is the second round of pre-approvals for marijuana businesses in the state. The first round of 15 growers and processors were approved in August.

The Baltimore-area companies already selected for preliminary growers and processors licenses are:

  • Curio Cultivation LLC received pre-approval as both a grower and a processor and plans to set up operations in Baltimore County.
  • Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness LLC received pre-approval as a grower and processor in Carroll County
  • Temescal Wellness of MD LLC received pre-approval as a grower and processor in Baltimore City
  • Forward Gro LLC received pre-approval as a grower in Anne Arundel County
  • Freestate Wellness LLC received pre-approval as a grower in Howard County

Dispensary, grower and processor operations are expected to be up and running by summer next year. The process has been a bit lengthier than expected, said Paul Davies, chairman of the Medical Cannabis Commission.

“Within the regulatory environment on Maryland, we have moved as fast as possible,” Davies said. “The only significant delay has been the success of the program. This program has had more applications that we’re aware of than any other state…everyone wants to be involved.”

Author Morgan Eichensehr

Morgan is a reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal. She covers technology, education and health care.

Source Baltimore Business Journal