More Maryland medical marijuana firms approved as industry continues to grow

The final approval of eight new medical marijuana dispensaries on Thursday increased the size of Maryland’s retail market to 65 stores, more than halfway toward the 102 that have obtained pre-approval.

“We are making progress,” said Joy A. Strand, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, at the panel’s Thursday meeting.

Revenue from dispensaries hit nearly $9 million in June, up from $2.6 million in January. Total sales for the past eight months stood at nearly $45 million.

The number of patients certified to obtain medical marijuana in Maryland jumped 27 percent — to 35,019 from 27,585 at the end of May.

Experts estimate that the number of patients typically equal 2 percent of a state’s population. For Maryland, which has a population of about 6 million, that would equate to 120,000 patients.

The state also continues to add medical providers who can prescribe the medication. The commission announced there are now 975 providers — primarily physicians. That’s up from 709 at the end of May.

The two areas with the most activity were Baltimore and Montgomery counties, which led the state in the number of patients and providers.

After the commission voted to approve six new dispensary licenses Thursday, attendees at the meeting broke out in applause. None were more excited than Mana Supply Company CEO Christopher Jensen, who let out a “woot” when the commission approved his firm’s dispensary license.

Mana — named after the Hawaiian word for “spiritual power” — has been working for nearly two years to get up and running in Anne Arundel County, where elected officials have erected barriers for the industry.

Jensen said he hopes his dispensary’s late-August opening in Annapolis, and accompanying outreach efforts such as outdoor yoga and a community garden, will help to “take away the stigma” of medical marijuana.

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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