State regulators in Maryland say they have received so many applications to grow, produce and sell medical marijuana that they no longer expect to begin issuing preliminary licenses by mid-January.
“In light of the exceptional response . . . we will extend the application review period initially proposed,” the Medical Cannibis Commission said in a statement Thursday. “The Commission will provide an updated program schedule in the near future.”
In all, nearly 900 applications were submitted by the Nov. 6 deadline, the commission said. Regulators received 102 applications for marijuana growing centers and 75 requests to open facilities to turn the cannabis into pills, oils and other medical products.
There were 705 applications to open dispensaries. But the commission said a “significant percentage” of those came from applicants who submitted multiple requests, one for each of the state’s 47 senatorial districts, an apparent attempt by prospective shop owners to improve their chances of securing a license.
State law allows up to two dispensaries in each senatorial district, and prohibits any single entity from operating more than one dispensary.
The state can authorize up to 15 growing facilities. There is no limit of the number of processing facilities.
Maryland passed a law allowing medical cannabis in 2013, but a dispute over which entities could grow and sell it delayed the launch of the program for more than a year.
Once all of the applications are reviewed, the commission said Thursday, it will issue preliminary license approvals.
Each entity that receives a preliminary license will have 365 days to complete all the requirements for a full license — likely including raising capital, receiving zoning approvals, preparing the facilities and hiring and training employees — and request a final inspection by the commission.
The commission said it could not provide a regional breakdown for the applications, and does not yet have a timeline for when it will be finished evaluating them.
“The number of applications received ensures the Commission will have a strong pool of qualified candidates to consider as the review process moves forward and that the state’s medical cannabis program will be self-funded as intended by the General Assembly,” said Hannah Byron, the commission’s executive director.