Maryland’s medical marijuana market is off to a hot start – a welcome development for a program that took more than four years to get off the ground.
Sales could approach the $100 million mark by the end of the year.
As of June 2018, roughly 32,000 patients had been granted MMJ cards, an increase of 191% from December 2017. Nearly 13,000 additional patient applications are pending.
A few key factors are driving strong patient counts and higher-than-expected sales:
- The state gives doctors a relatively high degree of flexibility when deciding to recommend medical marijuana to patients. Maryland has a list of qualifying conditions – like most other states with MMJ programs – but also allows recommendations in cases where a condition that’s not on the list is severe, unresponsive to other medical treatments and shows symptoms that can “reasonably be expected to be relieved” through cannabis.
- Access to MMJ in the state is high. Currently, 57 dispensaries are licensed throughout Maryland – more stores per square mile than any other state with a medical cannabis program. Regulators expect to eventually grant 102 dispensary licenses.
- Maryland allows the sale of flower, a boost for the industry because it is the most popular form of MMJ. States with existing programs that prohibit the sale of flower – such as New York and Minnesota – have struggled with low patient counts and lackluster sales. Many states that have yet to come online will restrict access to or ban smokable forms altogether – such as Louisiana, Ohio, North Dakota and West Virginia – which is expected to dampen sales prospects.
Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]