Medical marijuana is finally being sold in Maryland, after years of delays. Here's what you need to know:
So far, 22 out of 102 potential dispensaries are fully licensed. Seven of those are in Montgomery, Frederick and Howard counties, and there is one each in St. Mary's County, Allegany County and on the Eastern Shore. Their names and addresses are listed here, under "Licensed Dispensaries" (as of Dec. 14, the list included only the first 10 licensed dispensaries. Another 12 were approved that afternoon, and the list needs to be updated).
With a limited supply and a market, many dispensaries are limiting initial sales to patients who have already have registered with them. And several stores were sold out or low on certain products, so you may want to call before you head there.
In addition to the dried-leaf variety, companies have plans to process medical cannabis into a variety of other products including capsules, oils, creams, vaporizing pens and a peanut brittle-like substance called "shatter."
Maryland law does not allow edible medical marijuana products — such as brownies, cookies and gummies — which are popular in other states.
Maryland doesn't want unscrupulous medical professionals handing out phony marijuana recommendations for anyone who pays. Providers need to meet with patients in person and have a "bona fide" relationship with them before issuing certifications (which aren't called prescriptions, for legal reasons).
MedChi, a statewide association of physicians, is among several groups that are publicizing partial lists of health providers (doctors, dentists, nurses, podiatrists and midwives)who can recommend cannabis.
Dispensaries have been warning patients to expect unusually high prices in the early stages of the program, from about $400 to as much as $680 for an ounce, which is about a one-month supply. Cannabis entrepreneurs say the price will drop as more marijuana becomes available from growers and more dispensaries open their doors.
The law allows nonresidents to participate if they are being treated in Maryland (such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy). But the commission is not registering out-of-state patients while it reviews its policies. It is a federal offense to transport marijuana across state lines — even to the District, Delaware and Pennsylvania, where the use of medical marijuana also is legal.
The law lists these conditions as treatable with medical cannabis: Cachexia or wasting syndrome, anorexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
But the regulations also have a catchall provision that allows physicians and other providers to recommend cannabis for patients if they think doing so is in the patients' best medical interests.
Read more about Maryland's medical marijuana program: