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Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Mount Vernon, co-owned by Hopkins medical professor

A medical marijuana dispensary co-owned by an adjunct professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has opened in Mount Vernon.

The ReLeaf Medical Cannabis Dispensary, in the 1100 block of Cathedral St., is among 50 dispensaries licensed in the state, close to half of the 102 allowed by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

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Most of the licensees have opened in recent months after long delays with getting the industry off the ground in Maryland. The General Assembly created the program in 2012.

A half dozen of those licensed are in Baltimore City. The majority of the dispensaries are in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, leaving gaps in availability in the state’s farther flung counties.

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Another medical marijuana dispensary will be opening soon in Harford County, making four approved by the state. The Rise Abingdon dispensary would be the second approved in state legislative District 34, which is entirely contained within Harford’s border.

Dr. Andrew Whelton co-founded the ReLeaf shop with his son Connor Whelton.

Unlike some other major health systems in the state that ask their doctors not to recommend the drug, Johns Hopkins Medicine has no policy directing physicians about whether they should recommend medical cannabis, which remains illegal at the federal level.

The online portal that approves sales and provides information for medical marijuana patients in Maryland was overwhelmed over the weekend by high volume.

ReLeaf, in the 1100 block of Cathedral St., has invited members of the public who are 18 or older to a grand opening on June 22. It begins at 11 a.m. and Councilman Eric Costello, Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and State Senator Nathaniel J. McFadden are expected to attend.

Whelton said he brings decades of professional experience in drug development and safety to the business of cannabis. Registered providers in Maryland can recommend it to patients with specific maladies such as pain or wasting disorders.

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