A ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ for Long-Awaited Maryland Medical Marijuana Program

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Medical marijuana could finally become a reality next year in Maryland, one of the states slowest to make the drug available for purchase after legalizing sales.

In 2016, regulators awarded long-awaited licenses to grow, process and sell cannabis while grappling with fallout from those shut out of the potentially lucrative industry. Now selected businesses are racing to set up facilities and pass final inspections so the first seeds can be planted and flowers can hit the shelves by the end of 2017, four years after lawmakers legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“For many of us who have been along this journey for a long time, that we have seen licenses issued is a light at the end of the tunnel for patient access,” said Darrell Carrington, a medical marijuana lobbyist who leads the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association.

But ongoing litigation from three companies denied growing licenses, and looming legislation to address the lack of minority-owned marijuana firms, could delay the program.

As in 26 other states and the District of Columbia, the legal medical marijuana program in Maryland also hinges on the federal government’s continuing to turn a blind eye to businesses that are violating the federal marijuana prohibition. It’s unclear whether that will change in the presidency of Donald Trump, who has supported medical marijuana but tapped marijuana legalization opponent Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as his attorney general.

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