Medical marijuana regulators in Maryland have approved licenses for two cannabis businesses that were under investigation for potential conflicts of interest, after concluding that no evidence had been uncovered that should preclude the businesses from launching.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Monday approved growing and processing licenses for Doctor's Orders, which plans to operate in Dorchester County, and a processor license for Baltimore's Temescal Wellness.
It also issued dispensary licenses to Allegany Medical Marijuana, Southern Maryland Relief in St. Mary's County and Peninsula Alternative Health in Wicomico County, bringing the total number of storefronts approved to sell medical marijuana to six.
"The commission takes its role concerning the integrity of the medical cannabis program and a fair application process very seriously," Executive Director Patrick Jameson said in an email, and it "will continue to closely monitor any and all situations of noncompliance to ensure the public trust."
In early August, commissioners asked businesses that had been awarded preliminary licenses whether they had personal or business ties to the independent experts who graded their applications.
The inquiry followed a Washington Post report that revealed close relationships between some reviewers and some companies that won preliminary licenses. The Post reported that a person listed as general manager of Temescal Wellness's planned processing facility is married to a woman who had been hired to review applications. Both the reviewer and her spouse said they were unaware of each other's affiliations.
Concerns regarding Doctor's Orders centered on the role played by Maryland Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), who was formally reprimanded by the legislature this year for using his position as a lawmaker to influence marijuana regulation without fully disclosing that he was a paid consultant for Doctor's Orders.
The legislature's investigation found no evidence that Morhaim violated disclosure laws or used his public office for financial benefit. But it concluded that the lawmaker had helped push policies that could have benefited Doctor's Orders while he had an open line to regulators.
Industry officials say they expect medical marijuana to be available for purchase in Maryland by January.