Maryland Dispensary Owner Files Lawsuit Over Out-of-State Patient Policies

A Maryland medical cannabis dispensary owner has filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission over the agency’s refusal to allow out-of-state residents to obtain a state medical cannabis ID.

Full story after the jump.

The owner of a medical cannabis dispensary has filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission over their denial to allow registered out-of-state residents to obtain a Maryland medical cannabis card, the Cumberland Times-News reports. Under current state law, out-of-state patients do not have access to medical cannabis in Maryland.

The lawsuit, a writ of mandamus filed by Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary owner George Merling, requests that “government officials properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.”

While the state has accepted some applications for out-of-state patients, those applications were put on hold shortly after the launch of Maryland’s medical cannabis program in 2017, the report says. The lawsuit argues that it is a right of a U.S. citizen from one state to receive medical care while in another state. Moreover, Merling claims his defense is based on the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States …”.

In the state medical cannabis law with regard to out-of-state patients, Maryland dispensaries must be approved by the Illinois-based Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Care Organizations to offer care; however, due to federal law the commission will not approve any medical cannabis dispensary. Merling said the clause was included in the law because “no one could [get the accreditation].”

In 2018, the commission sent a letter to cannabis regulators in Maryland requesting that they remove the provision.

Last year, a similar writ of mandamus was filed in New Mexico and upheld. That decision forced officials to accept out-of-state patients, although state health officials refused to adhere to the decision and withheld medical cannabis ID cards from non-residents until lawmakers officially closed the ‘loophole.’

The case is scheduled to be heard May 27 unless a settlement is reached sooner.

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