Maryland’s MMJ Industry Won’t Launch Until 2017

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Correction: An initial version of this story reported that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission on Tuesday announced a further delay in the program’s implementation. That was inaccurate.

The East Coast’s largest medical marijuana program is scheduled to launch by next summer, later than first planned and a setback for hundreds of MMJ applicants in the state hoping to land a license.

Maryland officials initially had aimed to have the state’s medical marijuana program operating by the second half of 2016.

The new program “should be fully up and running by the middle of 2017,” a Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission spokesman said via email. The Washington Post reported in December that people wanting to buy medical cannabis in Maryland “are probably going to have to wait until 2017.”

Licenses for growers and processors should be issued starting late this summer, followed by dispensaries.

The latest timeline represents another delay for more than a thousand business license applicants in the state. They’ve been waiting since last November to hear whether or not they’ll receive a permit.

The timeline now looks to be a full 41 months between legalization and implementation, which would make Maryland one of the slowest states in the country to roll out an MMJ program.

In a news release, the Marijuana Policy Project noted that among 16 states that have set up MMJ programs similar to Maryland’s, only Delaware and New Jersey have taken longer than Maryland has to date to implement their systems.

And those two states’ delays were linked to uncertainty over the possibility of federal interference, which has been a moot point for years now, MPP said.

The commission’s website, last updated in November, still reads: “The Commission anticipates medical cannabis could become available to patients in the second half of 2016.”

Eventually, Maryland will license 15 cultivators and up to 109 dispensaries, making it by far the largest MMJ industry on the East Coast.