Maryland Medical Cannabis Program Nears Full Launch

Medicinal marijuana in Maryland
Image: natekudlich

It’s expected that the U.S. state of Maryland’s medical cannabis program will be fully implemented within a “few weeks” – but medicines may be thin on the ground.

It’s been a long road to get to this point. The program was signed into law in 2014, then in late 2015, 882 applications for medicinal cannabis grower, processor and dispenser licenses were received by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) .

The huge interest in the program led to delays while all the applications were reviewed and licenses weren’t awarded until August last year.

Maryland residents with qualifying conditions weren’t able to start registering for the program until April this year – and are still yet to be able to gain access to medicines.

While products will be available soon, it appears there will be a supply crunch.

“At the start of implementation, the quantity of medical cannabis products will be low, compared with the inventories of products seen in other states that feature medical cannabis programs,” said part of a statement issued by the MMCC last week. “Licensed growers and dispensaries are becoming operational, and might take several months to reach full inventory.”

Under the state’s program, ​registered patients can possess up to 120 grams dried flower, unless a provider makes a special determination that a patient needs more. ​Medical cannabis will also be available in forms that can be vaporized, along with extracts, lotions, ointments and tinctures. However, edible cannabis products will not be available from dispensaries in the state.

In related news, also announced last week by the MMCC was the beginning of a trial to study the effectiveness of vaping devices for use by patients, which will be carried out by two licensed companies in the state.

A Swiss study we reported on last year indicated vaping medical cannabis compounds using electronic cigarettes could be an efficient, user-friendly and safe alternative to smoking medical marijuana. Vaping medical cannabis involves heating plant material or extract to the point where cannabinoids are released, but combustion doesn’t occur; avoiding potential carcinogens and other toxins that are created in the burning process.