CUMBERLAND — Although Maryland’s four-year journey to establish a statewide medical marijuana program was often a rocky road, the industry has been experiencing steady growth in the number of patients and providers in the program’s first two years.
The program is nearing its second anniversary after going live in the fall of 2017.
Principals with two medical cannabis businesses in Allegany County are experiencing an increase in business. The Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Grow West MD have indicated strong sales.
“We just had the highest sales month (August) we’ve ever had,” George Merling, owner of the Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary on Beall Street in Cumberland, said. “The number of patients has grown significantly.”
The Maryland General Assembly approved medical marijuana during the 2013 legislative session. The Natalie M. LaParade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission was formed later that year to oversee the rollout.
State officials said the number of patients has more than tripled from the 18,000 people who first registered in Maryland to seek relief from severe pain, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions.
There are currently more than 56,000 residents who are certified across Maryland to purchase medical cannabis. According to the Baltimore Sun, between 250 and 350 patients have been applying for the state registry each day.
Nearly 2 million transactions were recorded statewide by dispensaries in 2018, the first full year of the program, with $96.3 million in sales. Although totals for 2019 are not yet available, officials are expecting at least a 50% increase.
Merling’s dispensary helps people navigate the state registry process.
“We educate at our store,” Merling said. “It really helps the patients understand the process. When they come, we decide if they are eligible. Then they need to see a doctor and they need to contact the state and get registered.”
Jake Shade, Allegany County commissioner, called Grow West MD