Maryland’s medical marijuana regulators approved final licenses for eight companies on Monday, bringing on line more than half of the firms picked to grow the drug.
Some companies said they are ready to begin growing immediately, while others say they will take weeks to start.
“Now, we have a real industry,” said Cary Millstein, CEO of newly licensed grower Freestate Wellness in Howard County.
Until Monday, just one firm had permission to start cultivating medical marijuana, which was first legalized in the state in 2013. Even at full capacity, just one firm could not produce nearly enough to support the entire industry.
As of Monday, 12,000 people had signed up to become patients and 400 medical providers had signed up to recommend it to them.
Brian Lopez, the newly appointed chairman of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, said there was still a lot work to be done to bring online the remaining growers and all of the marijuana processors and dispensaries hoping to open across the state. Only one dispensary, in Frederick, is licensed. More than 100 are pending.
Monday marked the deadline for 15 pre-approved marijuana growing firms to get their companies up and running or risk losing their licenses.
Nine companies are now permitted to grow the drug. Another two underwent final inspections on Monday. The future of the remaining four was not clear.
The commission’s executive director Patrick Jameson said the panel will weigh whether to grant extensions to those companies on Aug. 28.
Jameson said he thought having trouble with zoning laws was a valid reason to seek an extension, but failing to raise the capital or otherwise execute a business plan was not.
The commission also approved the state’s first marijuana processors, granting final licenses to four firms, three of which will also grow the drug.