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Best Week, Worst Week: UMMC gets $25M for cancer building; marijuana grower’s sales stopped

best-worst-102718A large private contribution this week kept plans moving forward for the University of Maryland Medical Center’s cancer center expansion while state regulators have halted sales by a medical marijuana grower.

Health care writer Tim Curtis reported Thursday a $25 million gift from Baltimore businessman Leonard Stoler and his wife, Roslyn, puts UMMC that much closer to building a 130,000-square-foot tower to house its comprehensive cancer center, a significant expansion of the center’s space.

University officials see the new building, which will also house much of the cancer research done at the center and through the University of Maryland School of Medicine, as the latest move to give the cancer center a national standing, able to recruit and retain top researchers and medical professionals with market-leading facilities.

State funds will help pay for another $125 million of the estimated $175 million building. The building is still in the planning stages and the system does not expect to submit an application for regulatory approval until early next year. Construction will likely start in 2020, with delivery of the new facility in 2023. When the tower is completed, it will be a noticeable gateway to the entire medical campus and a symbol of the medical center’s commitment to the community.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission ordered 69 dispensaries in Maryland to stop selling products containing marijuana grown by ForwardGro this week after regulators could not immediately confirm if patients, their caregivers or doctors had been notified of a two-week old order that stopped the sale of marijuana from the Arnold-based grower.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported Mondaythat six dozen licensed dispensaries around the state had received the order more than two weeks ago. A commission spokeswoman said she could not confirm whether patients or physicians had been similarly notified, also saying this situation had not occurred in the past.

The reason for the quarantine of the ForwardGro product remains unknown. In July, three former employees of ForwardGro filed sworn affidavits with the commission alleging the use of pesticides on the company’s products and requesting an investigation.

Currently, there are no pesticides permitted for use on medical cannabis in Maryland, though they can be used on hard surfaces and for soil sterilization.

In July, the state Department of Agriculture proposed changes that would allow the use of some pesticides on cannabis from a state-approved list.