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Cannabis commission drops investigations, issues licenses

Patrick Robinson,

Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, approved growing and processing licenses for Doctor’s Orders Maryland of Dorchester County and a processor license for Temescal Wellness of Baltimore after announcing it was ending separate investigations into potential conflicts. (File photo)

Two companies under investigation by state cannabis regulators have been issued licenses after those reviews were dropped.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission approved growing and processing licenses for Doctor’s Orders Maryland of Dorchester County and a processor license for Temescal Wellness of Baltimore Monday after announcing it was ending separate investigations into potential conflicts.

Commission Executive Director Patrick Jameson said initial investigations of both have not resulted in any “prima facie evidence that would preclude the full commission from making a recommendation one way or the other on the licenses.”

Both companies attracted attention from the commission for separate issues that raised questions of potential conflicts including one that resulted in the public reprimand of a Maryland state delegate.

Doctor’s Orders hired Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County as a consultant as it sought licenses in the state. Morhaim, a licensed physician and leading advocate for medical marijuana in the state, was ultimately reprimanded by his colleagues for his actions saying that while he broke no ethics laws, he had violated the spirit of the law.

Investigators began their review of Temescal Wellness after a Washington Post report revealed that the wife of the company’s general manager was one of the experts hired to independently evaluate applications.

The commission unanimously approved the licenses for both companies without discussion.

Jameson cautioned that additional evidence could cause the commission to reopen the reviews and reserved the right to suspend or revoke the licenses.

“The suspension of the investigations should not be seen as full closure at this time.” Jameson said.

Door cracked for out-of-state patients

In addition to issuing the licenses, the commission also delayed making a decision on proposed changes that would allow out-of-state patients to access medical cannabis in Maryland.

The proposed change to state regulations is a first attempt by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to comply with state law that allows out-of-state patients while also complying with federal guidelines.

“We obviously want non-residents who are here for an in-patient stay and who are going to be administered it in-patient to be deemed a qualifying patient,” said Charles Smith, chairman of the commission’s policy review panel. “We also want them to compete the treatment prior to being released.”

Under the proposal, out-of-state residents could be treated with the drug after meeting all the requirements for in-state patients, but would also have to submit to being treated in an accredited in-patient facility within the state.

Changes to Maryland law two years ago removed prohibitions on out-of-state patients.

Smith said the state law was “verbose, obviously it’s unclear and we’re seeking to give some clarity.”

The change left the commission with the thorny issue of following a legislative mandate and complying with a 2013 Department of Justice memo that lays out guidelines to prevent medical marijuana from being transferred across state lines.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, the author of the memo, wrote at the time that law enforcement should narrowly focus enforcement efforts on eight areas, including preventing the distribution to minors; preventing diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is not; and preventing medical or recreational marijuana laws from being used as a pretext for drug trafficking.

Maryland regulators acknowledged their solution may not be perfect.

They delayed a final decision in order to clarify how requiring treatment to be provided at an accredited facility might affect other patients including those in hospice.

“We want to comply with the Cole Memorandum,” Smith said. “We don’t want people from out-of-state coming in, obtaining and order and transporting (marijuana) back over state lines. We don’t want that.”


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