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Revised Md. marijuana regulations raise concerns for some

Medical patients shopping at a cannabis dispensary. Maryland’s system of providing medical marijuana will allow a similar purchasing process.(PHOTO BY SONYA YRUEL/ DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE)

Medical patients shopping at a cannabis dispensary. Maryland’s system of providing medical marijuana will allow a similar purchasing process.
(PHOTO BY SONYA YRUEL/ DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE)

Some medical marijuana advocates say they are concerned about the effect of more than 40 proposed revisions to regulations that would govern Maryland’s nascent program.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission will take public comment Tuesday morning on the proposed changes to regulations that just took effect last fall. Darrell Carrington, executive director of Maryland Cannabis Industry Association, said he is concerned that the changes could further delay a program that has been years in the making.

“We’re still going through these,” said Carrington of the proposed changes that were posted last week. “There are some significant changes that they are considering, and we hope they are not rushing the process and getting in front of the intent of the law passed by the General Assembly.”

While many of the changes are technical or typographical in nature a handful make substantive changes, including proposed language that could require detailed financial information from licensed agents as well as their employees; mandated identification cards for patients who are using the drug that would replace the already approved use of state identification cards; and allowing the use of testing laboratories that have been accredited by for-profit groups instead of the current language that allows only non-profit accreditation.

Carrington said such changes could further delay an ongoing licensing process that last month was delayed by another two months.

Maryland is one of 23 states in which medical marijuana is legal, but no one has been able to get a prescription for the drug in the state. Under the law in 2013, dispensing the drug was restricted to teaching and research hospitals, but those facilities declined to participate in the program out of concern they’d lose federal funding because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

The General Assembly then passed legislation meant to ease those restrictions and allow up to 15 growing operations and 94 dispensaries around the state. The licensing process began in November, but the first decisions may not be announced until next month and possibly not until the fall.