Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2016
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2016 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Pamela Wood


More Than 20 Companies Given Preliminary OK for Medical Pot

The state has awarded preliminary licenses to more than 20 companies 
to grow and process marijuana in Maryland, a major step forward in 
the effort to make medical cannabis available to patients in Maryland.

Licenses were awarded Monday to companies across the state, from 
Washington County in Western Maryland to Worcester County on the 
Eastern Shore. They plan to grow marijuana plants and turn them into 
pills, oils, extracts and other products for patients suffering from 
a range of illnesses.

Several of the winning applicants have political connections.

Doctors Orders Maryland was approved for licenses to both grow and 
process medical marijuana in Dorchester County. The company's 
clinical director is Del. Dan K. Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat 
and physician who has been the chief advocate in the General Assembly 
for medical Del. Dan K. Morhaim is clinical director of Doctors 
Orders Maryland, a Dorchester County company approved for licenses to 
grow and process medical marijuana. cannabis.

Morhaim said recently that he could have done a better job disclosing 
his affiliation with the company during the debate in Annapolis over 
medical marijuana. He didn't respond to a request for comment Monday night.

Another company, Holistic Industries of Prince George's County, had a 
letter of recommendation written by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Miller said he wrote letters on behalf of multiple applicants, but 
Holistic Industries was the only one to win a license.

"It was very general, nothing spectacular," he said.

Holistic Industries' partners include Josh Genderson, who grows 
marijuana in the District of Columbia; former state health secretary 
Nelson Sabatini; Donald E. Wilson, a former dean of the University of 
Maryland School of Medicine; and Henry P. "Phil" Miller Jr., a 
distant cousin of the Senate president who is a prominent Prince 
George's County farmer.

Gerry Evans, a top Annapolis lobbyist who represents Holistic 
Industries, said the company's leaders are experienced and 
knowledgeable. Holistic Industries plans to open a growing and 
processing operation in a warehouse in central Prince George's County.

"Anyone who thinks it's a bunch of hippies in their backyard, that's 
not what this is," Evans said.

Another top Annapolis lobbyist, Frank Boston, is a minority partner 
in Green Leaf Medical, which won a growing license.

"Obviously, we're excited about the news, but there's still a lot of 
work to do," Boston said.

Green Leaf Medical's president and CEO, Philip Goldberg, said the 
company has been paying rent on a 40,000-square foot warehouse in 
Frederick County in hopes of getting a license.

Goldberg estimated it could take about nine months to remodel the 
warehouse, win final approvals from the state medical cannabis 
commission, grow plants and get them to processors.

Licenses to grow or process

Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has awarded 
preliminary licenses to 15 medical marijuana growers and 14 
processors. Companies that received preliminary approval to grow 
medical cannabis are: Curio Cultivation, Baltimore County Doctors 
Orders Maryland, Dorchester County Forward Gro, Anne Arundel County 
Freestate Wellness, Howard County Green Leaf Medical, Frederick 
County Grow West MD, Garrett County Harvest of Maryland, Washington 
County HMS Health, Frederick County Holistic Industries, Prince George's County

Kind Therapeutics USA, Washington County, Maryland Compassionate Care 
and Wellness, Carroll County MaryMed, Dorchester County Shore Natural 
Rx, Worcester County SunMed Growers, Cecil County Temescal Wellness 
of MD, Baltimore.

The process was long, but Goldberg said the state was wise to be 
deliberate in how it set up the state's licensing program. He's 
president-elect of the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association.

"I believe the selection process was fair," he said. "I'm sure there 
are people who didn't win who don't feel that way."

Members of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis 
Commission selected the winning applicants Aug. 5, but their 
identities were not revealed publicly until Monday, to give state 
officials time to conduct initial background checks and review 
financial records.

"I'm excited that we have a great number of outstanding companies 
willing to help sick people in Maryland," Dr. Paul W. Companies that 
received preliminary approval to process medical cannabis are: AFS 
Maryland, Wicomico County Blair Wellness Center, Worcester County

Chesapeake Alternatives, Queen Anne's County

Curio Manufacturing, Baltimore County

Doctors Orders Maryland, Dorchester County FGM Processing, Charles 
County Holistic Industries, Prince George's County

Kind Therapeutics USA, Washington County

Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness, Carroll County MaryMed, 
Dorchester County Pharmaculture Corporation, Allegany County Pro 
Green Medical, Frederick County Rosebud Organics,f Montgomery County

Seven Points Agro-Therapeutics, Prince George's County and Temescal 
Wellness of Maryland, Baltimore. Davies, chairman of the commission, 
said in a statement.

The commission received 146 applications for licenses to grow and 124 
applications for licenses to process. It had 15 licenses to award in 
each category. Some applicants were granted licenses in both categories.

The applications, with identifying information removed, were reviewed 
and ranked by Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute 
before the commission voted.

The commission selected 13 of 15 of the top-ranked applicants for 
licenses to grow cannabis. Two applicants in the top group were 
bumped in favor of applicants ranked 20 and 21 in order to improve 
geographic diversity. The two applicants that were bumped have not 
been publicly identified.

Goldberg said he expects that those two companies will be "looking at 
all their options now."

The companies announced Monday will now go through a second stage of 
review that includes deeper background checks and financial reviews.

It still will be months before final approvals are granted, and 
patients won't be able to have access to the drug until at least next year.

The commission has not yet awarded preliminary licenses for up to 94 
dispensaries across the state. More than 800 applications were submitted.

Maryland lawmakers passed a medical marijuana law in 2013 but 
adjusted it when an industry failed to emerge.

Gail Rand started as an advocate for legalizing medical cannabis in 
hopes of helping her son, who has epilepsy.

She's now chief financial officer of Forward Gro, which is leaning 
toward converting greenhouses in Anne Arundel County to grow 
cannabis. Forward Gro has multiple options for its cannabis location, 
as the company's leadership team includes Gary Mangum and Mike 
McCarthy of Elkridge-based Bell Nursery.

Forward Gro now will undergo more background checks, have financial 
documents scrutinized, develop procedures, hire staff and undergo a 
site inspection before securing a final license. Rand said the 
company will "work feverishly" in hopes of making its medical 
cannabis available to patients in the second half of 2017.

Michael Bronfein, CEO of Curio Cultivation, said he is excited to 
develop medical cannabis products in Baltimore County.

"We will be very focused on quality and science and providing 
transparency to physicians and patients, to give them comfort that 
they know exactly what they are taking and why they are taking it," he said.
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