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2016 Symposium: Maryland’s Newly Launched Medical Cannabis Program.
On the afternoon of Thursday, November 10th, the University of Baltimore Law Forum will host its symposium that will highlight Maryland’s newly launched Medical Cannabis Program. Enacted in 2014, this program is the final product of previous attempts at a medical cannabis program as well as two and a half years of promulgating a regulatory framework and reviewing licensee applications. On November 6, 2015, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission closed the application period and began the process to review and rank prospective grower, processor, and dispensary applications. After months of deliberations and delays, the commission announced on Monday, August 15th, its fifteen pre-approvals for grower licenses and fifteen pre-approvals for processor licenses. These selected groups will have 365 days to get their respective businesses fully operational or risk revocation of their pre-approval. It is presumed that the commission will likely announce pre-approvals for dispensary licenses towards the end of 2016 or early portion of 2017. Given these timeframes for the respective segment rollouts of the grower, processor, and dispensary licensees, it is likely that the State of Maryland will have a fully operational program by late spring or early summer of 2017.
The University of Baltimore Law Forum’s symposium falls about three months after the initial announcement of pre-approvals for grower and processor licenses and likely a month or two prior to the announcement of pre-approvals for the ninety-four dispensary licenses. Using this unique place in time as our backdrop, it is our intention to provide a vibrant discussion regarding the rollout and operations of this new medical program being implemented in our state. Twenty-two states have had some form of medical cannabis program prior to Maryland, we shall determine what are the lessons learned from those programs and how will Maryland differentiate itself as the premiere medical cannabis program in the nation. Also, we shall attempt to further understand the rationale behind enactment and implementation of a program of this nature. At the core of it, is the notion that medical cannabis provides an effective, alternative therapy in which we can no longer keep on the sidelines, so we shall endeavor to understand this notion more fully. In addition, we will assess and discuss the impediments of starting a medical program that is in inherent conflict with federal laws and how the state may attempt to relieve its operators from federal prosecution. These are just some of the subject areas that will drive our discussion and we very much look forward to sharing these insights with the University of Baltimore School of Law student body, the Maryland legal community as a whole, and folks of the greater Baltimore area.