Gearing Up for a Medical Cannabis Industry in Maryland

The state of Maryland, compared to other jurisdictions, took quite a while before enacting a law authorizing medicinal cannabis use within territorial limits. The statute allowing medicinal use was passed in 2012 and signed into law the following year. Still, with the passage of the medicinal cannabis law, the state has yet to open the program to consumers until early next year. Meanwhile, the government has opened up licensing applications in preparation for the launching of the program.

Maryland has not yet passed a recreational cannabis law unlike some states that have pursued general legalization statutes. However, the state has policies in place which decriminalizes possession of a certain minimal amount of cannabis. This law was passed in 2014. Two years later, another law decriminalizing paraphernalia possession was passed and implemented thereafter.

Maryland Cannabis Regulations

Regulations governing the Maryland medical cannabis program became effective in 2015. The program is now under the jurisdiction of the state medical cannabis commission. While awaiting the official program launching, the government has already allowed consumers to register their information with the commission. Information on dispensary applicants has already been posted online even before licensure has been acquired.

The cannabis commission also maintains a medical provider registry as a source of information for the public. Consumer registration also requires certification from a licensed provider within the state. The provider will certify whether the consumer has a health or medical issue that qualifies under the cannabis state program. Some of these qualified conditions include post-traumatic stress disorder, seizures, spasms, and chronic pain, among others. Consumers registered outside the state but receiving treatment in Maryland can also register under the program.

Cannabis Purchase Requirements

Once the program is in full operation mode, dispensaries have to safeguard their system against noncompliance. The system would have to be interfaced with the Maryland Metrc traceability program. This would ideally cut transaction time since information is directly fed into the state Metrc system. Dispensary managers would also have to be familiar with consumer purchase requirements and ensure their customers are registered under the commission before dispensing any product.

Growing Consumer Registry in Maryland

As the Maryland industry prepares for 2018, the commission has licensed more than 100 dispensaries in anticipation of the demand. The state also licensed more than 10 growing facilities that will provide the state-regulated cannabis products for the market. Meanwhile, the commission’s consumer and provider registry has a growing list even before the program launch. As of November 2017, the registry already has more than 15,000 consumers and hundreds of medical providers in the list.

The Maryland cannabis industry has yet to fully commence dispensing products to the community, Yet, local businesses and industry experts are hopeful it would achieve the same economic potential as other states that have legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis. While local businesses wait, the months leading to the formal opening of the market would be the best time for licensed dispensaries to prepare their POS and other management systems in compliance with Maryland regulations.