First Maryland medical marijuana grow operation approved

May 18, 2017
The Baltimore Sun

Regulators have issued the first license for a medical marijuana grow in Maryland, allowing a sprawling 2-acre warehouse in Anne Arundel County to immediately start cultivating the drug.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to grant final approval for a medical marijuana grow to a company called ForwardGro, more than four years after the state first legalized the medicinal use of pot.

“A new industry in Maryland has been launched,” said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the commission. “They can start to grow immediately.”

“I’m overjoyed,” said Gail Rand, the company’s chief financial officer. She started lobbying the Maryland General Assembly more than five years ago to legalize Maryland medical marijuana in the hope that the drug would minimize her son Logan’s epileptic seizures. One of the company’s initial cannabis strains was selected to treat Logan’s symptoms.

ForwardGro was the first of 15 companies granted preliminary licenses in August 2016 to earn final approval to grow the drug. Since then, the industry has been subject to political controversy and two lawsuits over how the potentially lucrative licenses were awarded.

Also on Wednesday, the commission suspended the preliminary growing license for another of the 15 initial winners.

Commissioner Dario Broccolino said MaryMed LLC has repeatedly failed to produce documents related to the firm’s parent company, Vireo Health, and its operations in New York and Minnesota.

Broccolino and commission officials declined to discuss their specific concerns.

But prosecutors in Minnesota have accused two of Vireo Health’s former top officials of moving $500,000 in marijuana oil illegally from the company’s Minnesota facilities to its New York operation. One of the former officials faces felony drug charges in Minnesota.

Vireo Health officials did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday, but in the past have denied any wrongdoing.

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