Two Worcester Bidders Among Those Pre-Approved For Medical Marijuana Licenses

BERLIN – Two Worcester County companies are among those that have been granted license pre-approvals by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

Worcester County’s Shore Natural Rx LLC was among 15 entities selected as growers while Blair Wellness Center LLC was selected as a processer by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). The naming of the growers and processors Monday came after months of waiting by the hundreds who submitted applications.

Merry Mears, Worcester County’s economic development director, says medical marijuana could bring jobs to the area.

“The medical cannabis industry is a brand new, multimillion dollar industry for the state of Maryland and of course Worcester County will see some trickle down benefits from industry establishment in our area,” she said.

While little is known regarding Shore Natural Rx and Blair Wellness Center, like the other entities named by the commission they’ll have a year to meet regulatory requirements, raise capital, buy land, secure local zoning approvals and build their facilities.

“At that time, if each is successful in their endeavors, several higher than average paying jobs will be made available,” Mears said, “and, as with any new establishment that locates in the county additional tax revenues will flow into the county budget.”

Jobs associated with the industry, she said, would include pharmacists, scientists and lab technicians, among others.

MMCC officials said this week that the entities granted pre-approvals would now move on to the second stage of the approval process.

“Now that the commissioners have made their selections the real work begins for those companies,” said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the MMCC, said in a news release. “We will implement a rigorous Stage Two background and financial due diligence process for these entities prior to issuing a license. A pre-approval is not a license. I truly look forward to facilitating this nascent state wide industry and working with local, city and county jurisdictions and the principals of these organizations.”

The commission had Towson University’s Reginal Economic Studies Institute (RESI) coordinate the application review by subject matter experts. In all, the state received 145 grower applications, 124 processors applications and 811 dispensary applications. RESI contracted with third-party experts from around the country to evaluate the applications in a double-blind process. Once those experts evaluated and scored the applications, RESI compiled the scores and ranked the applications.

“While we are aware there is a public interest in the rankings of the grower and processor applications, the rankings were merely used as an organizational tool,” said Dr. Paul Davies, chairman of the MMCC. “The commission will list the entities in alphabetical order. All of the chosen business entities have an equal opportunity to complete the licensing process. At this stage, I am very happy with the commissioners’ choices.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.