The licensing of Maryland’s medical marijuana industry will be delayed until at least the summer of 2016, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced via press release on Monday.

The delays are the result of higher-than-anticipated interest in the marijuana business licenses: last month, the state announced it had received more than 1,000 license applications. 811 applications were for dispensing licenses. Maryland is limiting the number of dispensary licenses on a per-county basis, however, meaning many applicants submitted have more than one application, the total depending on which and how many counties they wish to serve — this has also slowed the process.

MMCC Executive Director Hannah Byron said in a statement:

“Before medicine can be dispensed, it has to be grown, processed, tested and packaged. Therefore, we will first issue Stage One approvals for grower and processor licenses, with Stage One approval for dispensary licenses to follow. This sequential approach mirrors the operational needs of the program and represents the most efficient means of processing each category of application.”

Applicants who receive approval for Stage One of the licensing process are encouraged to begin fulfilling any outstanding requirements to satisfy the Commission before they can formally receive a license. Some hopefuls, however, are already stepping up to the plate by raising more capital, acquiring appropriate real estate and beginning to maneuver the bureaucratic process of reaching full compliance with state marijuana laws.

“This proactive approach on the part of applicants certainly will help expedite the program’s rollout schedule so that Maryland patients can begin receiving medicine at the earliest possible date,” said MMCC Chairman Dr. Paul W. Davies.

With cultivation licenses expected this summer, it will likely be another four to six months before any medicinal cannabis products are ready to be brought to market. Patients may be waiting until 2017, four years after voters initially approved the program.

Photo Credit: Charlie Stinchcomb

 

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