Maryland awards first medical marijuana cultivation license

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The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission gave final approval to the first company to win a cultivation license under the state’s MMJ program.

The announcement Wednesday comes nine months after the state revealed 15 preliminary license winners, underscoring the slow rollout of Maryland’s medical cannabis program.

ForwardGro, based in Anne Arundel County to the south of Baltimore, is the first of the preliminary winners to make it through stage two of the licensing process. Other winners are still undergoing background checks, completing facility build-outs, and obtaining local zoning approval, according to a news release from the commission.

The commission said it remains confident MMJ sales will begin in late summer this year, despite a number of lawsuits that have been filed against the program.

The latest lawsuit was filed just this month by a cultivation applicant that was not awarded a license. The suit is seeking to halt the permitting process for the 15 preliminary licensees. In its filing, Alternative Medicine Maryland argued the commission did not follow the law because it failed to consider an applicant’s race.

Another 102 companies were awarded preliminary licenses in December to operate dispensaries in Maryland, but those companies must still obtain final approval.