Small number of medical marijuana dispensaries open in Maryland


Only a small handful of medical marijuana dispensaries have opened in Maryland, several years after the law was approved by the legislature.

More than 100 pot dispensaries could eventually open in all Maryland counties.

But just two dispensaries opened late last week in Montgomery County with long lines of patients forming before operating hours.

However several medical marijuana dispensaries do not plan to open until 2018 citing a lack of pot-related products for their stores.

Leah Heise, co-owner of Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute which has received a license to operate in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood, says her business will not open until February.

Heise blames routine delays which often face any new business.

"For us it's just taken longer to get through the construction RFP process to get the building permits pulled that we originally estimated," said Heise.

She understands the frustration of many patients who have been to obtain legal medical marijuana for a variety of medical ailments.

"I know a number of patients who have been lost along the way who were never able to get this medication, that's very frustrating for families or for the patients who did not pass or have been suffering for so long without this," said Heise.

Operators of other pot dispensaries said they had hoped to open their businesses this month but they have not been able to receive enough pot-related products.

Medical marijuana dispensaries cannot purchase pot from Colorado or other states where marijuana is legal.

Dispensaries must purchase pot-related products from growers licensed in the State of Maryland.

Heise acknowledges that the regulatory process of opening medical marijuana dispensaries has been slower than many anticipated.

But she adds "I'd rather see it go slow, I'd rather see Maryland be really focused on quality compliance and really making sure that the product that we deliver to out patients is safe."

At least 90 companies given preliminary approval are still awaiting final approval to open dispensaries in all Maryland counties.

A spokesman for the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission says the commission is working with dispensaries to open in the near future.

But the spokesman says the commission cannot control certain delays such as local zoning issues.

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