The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission officially opened its registry Monday to the first round of patients seeking medical marijuana.
The program is now accepting applications for patients to potentially receive marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries once these dispensaries open up in the coming months. Three dispensaries in District 21, which includes College Park, won preliminary licenses in late 2016, The Baltimore Sun reported.
"There is no legal medical cannabis available at this time, but we will have it this summer, we anticipate," Shannon Moore, an MMCC member, told WTOP.
Registration is completed online and includes a "phased rollout" by last name, Moore told WTOP. Patients with last names that begin with A through L were able to register starting Monday morning, while patients with last names that begin with M through Z cannot register until April 17 at 9 a.m. Doctors must also enroll with MMCC to prescribe medical marijuana.
Open enrollment for all patients and caregivers begins April 24. Only patients suffering from qualifying medical conditions such as epilepsy, cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe or persistent muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain can receive medical marijuana. After a patient has registered and obtained a certification from a Maryland-licensed doctor, they will be able to legally go to any Maryland-licensed dispensary to obtain medical marijuana.
"You have to have a condition that is not otherwise suitably treated," Moore told WTOP. "I got involved in this because I have twins with epilepsy, and I have been very excited to see this happen."
Maryland is one of 29 states — plus Washington — that has legalized medical marijuana. This state did so in 2014.
"I agree with the legalization of medical marijuana," said Mayra Cabrera, a freshman behavioral and community health major.
States such as California, which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996, have also expanded their policies to include recreational use of marijuana. A bill to legalize the possession, recreational use and sale of small amounts of marijuana failed to make it out of committee before the end of the 2017 General Assembly session.
The MMCC said it hopes it can stay on track to open dispensaries by the end of summer.
"Our members never lost focus on the primary goal: getting medical cannabis to Maryland patients, hundreds of whom stepped up in Annapolis to make their voices heard," Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association, told The Washington Post. "We can now continue to move forward."