Medical cannabis may be available to Maryland patients by July 2016. In a big step toward making this timeframe a reality, Maryland just published its proposed medical cannabis regulations. These regulations detail the application and licensing requirements for medical cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries.
The publication of these proposed regulations starts the clock ticking on the time period for finalizing Maryland’s medical cannabis regime. Next is a comment period on the proposed regulations that lasts through July 27. Until this date, interested entities and individuals can submit comments on the proposed regulations to Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
If you are hoping to get in on the ground floor of Maryland’s medical cannabis program you should not underestimate the importance of this very short comment period — think of the comment period as that awkward moment in a wedding ceremony when the officiant states “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Now is the time to identify any and all of your concerns regarding the proposed regulations. Changing the regulations will be much more difficult and require significant effort after they have been finalized and officially published.
The Commission also provided a proposed timeline for implementing its medical cannabis program:
- In September 2015, the Commission expects to finalize and publish the medical cannabis regulations.
- Also in September 2015, the Commission plans to post on its website the initial applications for growers, processors, and dispensaries.
- Mid-October to November 2015 will most likely be the deadline period for initial applications.
- In December 2015 or January 2016, license pre-approvals will be issued by the state.
- During spring and summer 2016, pre-licensed entities will undergo final reviews and inspections before starting operations.
The proposed regulations allow for just 15 initial pre-approved growers, a certain number of processors, and 2 licensed dispensaries for each Maryland Senatorial district other than licensed processing dispensary facilities, with selection based on competitive scoring. If, as anticipated, more entities apply for licenses than are permitted for each category, and if there is a numerical tie in scoring for the final license slot, the Commission will decide the final licensee according to a public lottery.
The proposed regulations also detail items that must be included with an application for a medical cannabis business license, including (but definitely limited to) the following:
- a list of investors with more than 5% of the operational investment at the time of the application;
- a business plan;
- documentation showing adequate capitalization and sources of funding;
- a security plan;
- a quality control plan; and
- a tracking system.
Maryland’s proposed regulations and expectations for cannabis businesses are intense. Entities considering medical cannabis operations in Maryland should thoroughly review the regulations and begin preparing now for what will undoubtedly be another tough marijuana licensing round.