- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 2, 2017

Medical marijuana sales started Friday in the state of Maryland following nearly five years of delays.

Maryland’s then-governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in 2013, but bureaucratic hold -ups prevented dispensaries from actually selling the plant until Friday, December 1.

Regulators said they will authorize 102 dispensaries to operate within the state, and 10 of them were fully licensed to do as business as of Friday, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission website.

At least 200 potential customers lined up outside Rockville’s first medical marijuana dispensary, Potomac Holistics, including some patients who traveled more than an hour to legally purchase the plant when the shop received its first cannabis shipment Friday afternoon, The Washington Post reported.

“It’s amazing,” Potomac Holistics owner Bill Askinazi told WAMU public radio. “It’s really the start of the culmination of a four-year journey for us.”

Maryland took the first step toward legalizing medical marijuana in May 2013 when Mr. O’Malley signed legislation meant to get the program off the ground. The effort stalled when no academic medical centers stepped forward to run the program, however, notwithstanding several other states practically legalizing the plant outright in the interim.

“Maryland’s rollout of the medical program has been one of the slowest in the country, so we are very glad to see it finally getting off the ground,” said Kate M. Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 29 states and the nation’s capital have passed legislation letting doctors recommend the plant to patients diagnosed with certain medical condition. Nine states and Washington, D.C., meanwhile, have legalized recreational marijuana since 2012, including five where adults can purchase the plant from licensed retailers without a doctor’s note: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington State.

Maryland’s law states that certified medical providers can recommend cannabis to patients they have a “bona fide” relationship with as long as their their symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by marijuana.

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