After being inundated with applications from those hoping to grow, process and dispense medical cannabis in Maryland, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission revealed its 15 grower selections and 15 processor selections on Monday.
While a large step forward in a program that has been fraught with delays, these preapprovals means the companies will now undergo rigorous background checks and financial due diligence processes.
The commission anticipates medicine will be available in the summer of 2017, according to a news release.
Among the businesses selected from 145 grower applications and 124 processor applications are several run by members of the Jewish community.
Curio Wellness, which was selected for a grower’s license under Curio Cultivation and a processor’s license under Curio Manufacturing, both in Baltimore County, has Baltimore health care mogul Michael Bronfein in its CEO spot. Gail Rand and Dr. Debra Kimless, two members of the leadership team of ForwardGro, which was selected for a grower’s license in Anne Arundel County, are members of the tribe. Cary Millstein, CEO of Freestate Wellness, which was selected for a grower’s license in Howard County, has been a board member of the Jewish Federation of Howard County for more than 10 years. Green Leaf Medical CEO Philip Goldberg, whose company was selected as a grower for Frederick County, is a member of Temple Beth Ami in Rockville. He is also the president of the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association.
Doctor’s Orders, which was selected for grower and processor licenses in Dorchester County, listed Del. Dan Morhaim, a physician and the policymaker behind the legislation that led to the creation of the state’s medical cannabis program, as clinical director in its application.
The commission is still reviewing the 811 dispensary applications submitted. State law allows for 94 dispensaries — two for each senatorial district. Many businesses submitted applications for all three types of licenses. Fifteen additional growers may be integrated into the program.
Millstein, who estimated that he’s invested close to a quarter-million dollars in his business, said he was thrilled to be selected as a grower.
“I got an email from a woman here who said she’s a 15-year Howard County resident who’s been suffering from PTSD and has tried everything with little to no relief, and she’s been watching this with great anticipation,” he said. “She was so happy to see Maryland finally select the companies, and we were one of the recipients in Howard County where she lives.
“The reason why we did it was for people like her,” he continued, adding that his father had terrible pain from pancreatic cancer at the end of his life. “These patients are really why I got involved in all of this — to provide some alternatives that are showing promise. It’s time ancient medicine becomes friends with modern medicine.”
He believes his company was selected because he assembled a team that includes agricultural and cannabis experts, caretakers and consultants from California and Colorado who have experience with medical cannabis.
Green Leaf’s Goldberg shared Millstein’s excitement.
“We look forward to serving patients in Maryland as fast as possible, and we’re working on construction, starting [this past Tuesday] actually, at the Frederick location,” he said.
ForwardGro’s Kimless is a board-certified anesthesiologist and dedicated researcher of medical cannabis for pain management, cancer and as an opioid replacement.
“Treating conditions with medical cannabis will improve the quality of life for so many Marylanders by easing and managing pain, preventing seizures and reducing nausea from chemotherapy as well as other treatments,” she said in a news release. “I am grateful Maryland has recognized the importance of this.”
The complete list of companies selected for licenses can be viewed at mmcc.maryland.gov.