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Maryland medical cannabis panel allows firm to compete again as charges linger against 2 former executives

A year ago Maryland medical marijuana regulators sought to deny a license to a company picked to grow the drug because there was “reasonable likelihood” it would not properly secure the medicine.

At the time, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission had become concerned about the firm, MaryMed, after two of its former executives were charged in Minnesota with felonies for allegedly transporting the drug from a Minnesota facility to one in New York state.

On Tuesday the commission reinstated the company into Maryland’s licensing process after an administrative judge concluded there is “no reasonable likelihood” that MaryMed had participated in smuggling a half-million dollars worth of cannabis oil from Minnesota to New York in December 2015.

Maryland regulators also had been concerned that MaryMed did not notify them quickly enough that its ownership structure had changed, separating the firm from its sister companies in Minnesota and New York and from the former executives each charged with two felony counts — medical director Dr. Laura Bultman and security director Ronald Owens.

Both are scheduled to stand trial in separate proceedings in November in Wright County District Court in Minnesota, according to a court official and online records.

Maryland’s commission in September announced it intended to deny MaryMed’s applications to grow, process and sell the drug in Maryland after it had already won pre-approval. But MaryMed requested a hearing.

Maryland Administrative Law Judge John J. Leidig ruled in May that MaryMed had responded “reasonably promptly” to commission requests about ownership structure and that “there is not a reasonable likelihood that medical cannabis was diverted from” Minnesota to New York. Leidig also found that the charges against the two former executives were based entirely on information provided by another former executive who had been fired, demonstrating “a motive to fabricate an allegation of cannabis diversion,” Leidig wrote.

The commission’s decision to reinstate MaryMed into the process for final approval comes with conditions — including additional monitoring by state regulators and a requirement that the firm retain and store video surveillance for a year instead of the 30 days required of other companies, said commission spokeswoman Jennifer White.

White said the commission had the ability to make a different decision “depending on the outcome” of the criminal trials against Bultman and Owens.

“The Commission will continue to monitor this situation carefully and expects to observe the highest level of quality, safety and security, as put forth by MaryMed in their initial applications,” according to the commission’s statement. “The Commission retains its broad investigatory authority to take further action, should new evidence come to light.”

Andrew Mangini, a MaryMed spokesman, thanked the commission for its decision.

“We look forward to completing final licensure approval to provide Maryland patients with high-quality medical cannabis products and the compassionate care that we are known for,” Mangini said. “We look forward to launching operations at our Dorchester County facility and bringing new, good-paying union jobs to the Eastern Shore.”

ddonovan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/dougdonovan

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