Correction: Earlier versions of this article incorrectly stated that one of MaryMed’s out-of-state affiliates faced a federal probe. It was a probe by state and local authorities. The article has been corrected.
Maryland medical cannabis regulators gave final approvals Monday to three more cultivation centers and two processing companies, and announced that they would give 10 other companies that missed a key deadline additional time to complete their licensing requirements.
The businesses were supposed to have finished inspections and final background checks within a year of receiving preliminary approval from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission last August.
Other businesses that applied for licenses but were denied, and state lawmakers allied with them, are monitoring the final-approval process closely, hoping that companies that missed the deadline will be rejected and that their own companies will get another chance to break into the potentially lucrative legal marijuana industry.
Commissioner Charles Smith III, who is the state’s attorney for Frederick County, said regulators decided against rescinding preliminary approval for the two growers and eight processors that missed the deadline, and will monitor their progress in the coming weeks.
Patrick Jameson, executive director of the commission, said, “They’ll look at it on a case-by-case basis.”
Maryland’s medical marijuana program, legalized in 2013, has so far licensed a dozen growers, six processors and a single dispensary, in Frederick County. Retail outlets have until December to pass final vetting and inspections.
One company that received preliminary approval, MaryMed, was ultimately denied a cultivation and processing license amid questions over a probe of one of its out-of-state affiliates. The company is appealing that decision.
The commission is the target of several lawsuits alleging that the process of choosing companies was unfair. In addition, various state lawmakers have called for additional licenses to be awarded or for an overhaul of the program. Those critics include the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, which objects to the dearth of black-owned businesses in the medical cannabis industry.
The commission has also been probing potential conflicts between some of the companies and the independent experts hired by the state to review their applications.
One such company had its application for a processing license reviewed by a team that included the wife of one of its executives, The Washington Post reported last month. That company is among the eight prospective processors that have been granted extra time to complete the final requirements.
Marijuana regulators on Monday also discussed expanding the number of processor licenses, which — unlike the number of growers — is not capped by law.
Darrell Carrington, a lobbyist for several prospective companies, said a bigger pool of processors would mean a broader range of medical marijuana products available on the market and, potentially, more minority- and female-owned companies.
But Jake Van Wingerden, who chairs an association of pre-
licensed growers and processors, said those first companies “made assumptions and business decisions based on the original award numbers, and we believe it is premature to add any additional licenses at this time before the market is even up and running.”