Just days after the first medical marijuana dispensaries opened in Maryland, limited supplies and technical difficulties mean little of the product is actually available.
The state has licensed just 10 of an expected 102 dispensaries, and of those only six have opened — none in the Baltimore area, according to information provided by the companies to The Baltimore Sun or listed on their websites.
Three of those six later closed temporarily because of inventory or technical troubles, though two have reopened. One shop that opened is seeing customers by appointment only. The remaining dispensaries plan to open in coming weeks.
The supply and technical issues mean those consumers who wish to use marijuana for their ailments — and who have waited years since the state passed legislation approving a medical marijuana industry — may have to wait a little longer.
The Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cumberland opened Friday to a long line of people but had no cannabis on hand, said manager Mark Van Tyne. When the supply of marijuana buds finally showed up, it was about 8 p.m., more than 8 hours later than promised and half of what Van Tyne expected.
The staff stayed until 3 a.m. to make sure that all the patients who waited — more than 100 — at least left with something.
“The staff was really great,” Van Tyne said. “Most everyone was really nice about it.”
On top of inventory shortages, Allegany also dealt with computer glitches that prevented workers from labeling products and printing receipts, among other things. That forced the dispensary to shut its doors for Monday, though the dispensary reopened Tuesday.
With any new industry, some issues are not unexpected, said Christopher Garrett, a spokesman for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which is overseeing the effort.
“For the next few months, dispensaries will be building their inventories with medical cannabis products,” Garrett said.
And consumers interested in acquiring medical marijuana products can’t just walk in. They must take a number of steps.
First they must be diagnosed by their doctor with a qualifying condition such as cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
Then a medical professional participating in the marijuana program must recommend medical marijuana.
Consumers also must register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
More than 17,000 consumers in Maryland have already registered for medical marijuana and more than 500 providers — including doctors, nurses and dentists — have signed on to the program, according to recent data from the commission. The commission has not made a list of doctors and other medical professionals available publicly, so consumers must find a practitioner through advertising or referrals.
Some of the dispensaries that opened were using their websites and Facebook pages to update potential customers on their supply issues and when they would be able to accommodate orders.
Potomac Holistics in Rockville posted: “Due to overwhelming demand we have sold out of product and will be CLOSED on Sunday, December 3 and Monday December 4. We expect to receive new strains and supply around mid to end of this coming week.”
Tuesday, it had posted that it had reopened with “limited vape hybrid cartridges.”
And Kannavis in Ijamesville wrote Monday: “We have a limited supply of Dixie tablets and Elixirs available. We will be formulating a new menu and prices as soon as we get our next shipment of product, which we expect to be within the week.” On Tuesday, it thanked customers for their patience with their limited supplies.
Others listed a vague “Coming soon.”
One thing is sure, Van Tyne said, “People have been pre-registered for months, and we took pre-orders. … The demand is very high.”
Dec. 8: This story has been updated to correct the number of expected medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.