After medical marijuana legalization in Maryland , one of the issues at the forefront of public debate is zoning for medical cannabis businesses. While some community members want special zoning requirements, members of the medical marijuana business community disagree that new guidelines are needed. This video examines the dispute.
Medical cannabis business owners want to see their locations governed by the same regulations that govern drug stores and hospitals. By stressing that their legal marijuana businesses fulfill medical needs, business owners hope to win over community members who are nervous about dispensary locations. People opening a marijuana business should work closely with their attorney to find the right location within the current zoning requirements.
As with any new business, it is important to lay the right foundation for your marijuana business in Maryland . Because there are additional legal complexities involved in setting up a cannabis business, working with a lawyer with experience in marijuana laws can help you avoid future complications. These tips will help you establish your cannabis business, from cultivating cannabis to setting up medical marijuana dispensaries.
Start by focusing on creating your business structure and completing any partnership agreements, with the help of your lawyer. Next, turn your attention to applying for the proper business licenses. Cannabis businesses are subject to their own set of approval and zoning requirements, which your lawyer can assist you in meeting. With the proper approvals in place, you can turn your attention to traditional start-up activities, including hiring employees, establishing business relationships, and marketing your services. Maintaining a close relationship with your lawyer will help you stay on top of any changing legal requirements that impact your business so you maintain compliance with state and federal medical marijuana laws.
A successful business in the medical cannabis industry requires an exhaustive planning process. The most effective way to plan for long-term success is to seek legal counseling in Maryland. Meet with attorneys who provide consulting services to legal marijuana businesses to find out what you need to do to obtain all the necessary permits and licenses. After your medical cannabis service opens its doors for business, you’ll still need ongoing legal guidance, since cannabis regulations continue to evolve.
When setting up your business, it’s important to know where your strengths lie. If you have a background in horticulture and a green thumb, then you may do well as a grower. If you prefer to be on the front end of the business, you can open a dispensary. Regardless of your choice, you need to have a plan for building a loyal clientele. It is not wise to assume that the popularity of medical marijuana will translate to an automatic customer base. Like any other business, you will have competitors in the medical cannabis industry. To reach your long-term objectives, you’ll need to develop strategies for brand formation, customer care, and customer retention.
Marijuana laws in Maryland have evolved over the last few years, with the state becoming the 21 st in the nation to have a medical marijuana program. In the past, medical marijuana users could prove medical necessity to prevent being convicted for possession of an ounce or less. However, access to medical marijuana was still not addressed. In 2014, then-Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill into law that replaced criminal penalties with civil fines for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. Changes are once again afoot in Maryland, with current laws stating that individuals no longer need to be part of a medical research program to have access to medical marijuana, and can possess a 30-day supply. Check out this infographic to learn more about cannabis laws in Maryland. Please share with your friends and family.
Attitudes toward marijuana legalization have been changing slowly but surely in the U.S. The advent of legal marijuana in states such as Colorado has helped lawmakers and activists around the country point to significant benefits for the economy and for patients with chronic medical conditions. While Maryland is one of the latest states to approve the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the regulations and requirements continue to evolve. Entrepreneurs who are thinking of opening dispensaries in the state would be well advised to seek legal counseling in Maryland.
Long Road to Legalization
Officially, Maryland actually legalized medicinal cannabis in 2013. However, the law was so restrictive that patients were unable to make use of the program. The initial law restricted the dispensing of cannabis to select academic medical centers, or teaching hospitals such as Johns Hopkins University. However, there were no teaching hospitals within the state that were willing to enact such a program. The movement toward marijuana legalization benefited from a complete overhaul of the initial law in 2014. Additional follow-up laws were passed in 2015. However, many prospective cannabis dispensary owners are still waiting for licenses to open up shop.
Mixed Reactions from County Governments
The prospect of having medicinal marijuana dispensaries within their jurisdictions has been cause for concern for some county officials. County Executive Steve Schuh (R) of Anne Arundel County is notable for his extreme reaction to the legalization of cannabis dispensaries. He has proposed a complete ban on both manufacturing facilities and cannabis dispensaries within the jurisdiction. Other county officials; however, including some of Schuh’s fellow Republicans, have welcomed the influx of jobs that dispensaries could bring to their areas. And the Maryland Attorney General’s office recently sent an advisory letter to the state legislature informing lawmakers that counties cannot ban legal businesses , absent special circumstances. If Maryland Senator Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) has his way, lawmakers might pass a new law that bans local governments from interfering with patients’ right to access medical marijuana dispensaries. Regardless, by the end of 2016, patients should be able to purchase legal cannabis from 94 dispensaries in Maryland.
As you might expect, the process to obtain a medical cannabis dispensary license in Maryland is quite complex. Since the state will be allowing a limited number of dispensary licenses, it’s in your best interests as a prospective cannabis business owner to seek legal counseling in Maryland before submitting your application. Attorneys can advise you of relevant compliance issues and make sure that your application is in order with all necessary supporting documents.
Prospective cannabis dispensary owners can expect to fill out a lengthy application. It requires basic information such as the legal name of the entity and the identifying information for each principal officer. Bear in mind that no applicant or principal officer may apply for a Maryland license if he or she has previously served as a principal officer in a dispensary that has had a revoked registration certificate. One large section of the application requires you to check off boxes to demonstrate that you acknowledge various requirements and that you agree with them. Then, you can expect to answer in-depth questions about your proposed medicinal marijuana dispensary, such as how you plan to minimize any negative impact to the surrounding community and how you will train all dispensary agents in detecting and preventing the diversion of medicinal marijuana. Other examples of required information are:
- How you plan to educate dispensary agents every 12 months regarding the latest medicinal marijuana information
- How the premises will be constructed to prevent unauthorized entry
- How the secure room within the dispensary will be constructed
- How you will maintain surveillance and security systems
These are just a few of the many questions you can expect to answer. It’s highly advisable to consult an attorney in Maryland to ensure that your application package is in order before submitting it.
If you are able to obtain a medicinal marijuana dispensary license, you will be required to pay an annual licensing fee of $40,000 for every year that you are in business. Combined grower/dispensary operators are required to pay higher fees.
Staying abreast of the latest regulations regarding cannabis services can be challenging. For cannabis business owners; however, it is essential to remain in full compliance with local and state laws. This is one reason why investors in medical marijuana near Rockville have turned to the Medical Cannabis Law Group for guidance. At our law firm, we walk investors through every step of the process, from filling out applications and obtaining permits to handling claims made against your company. We handle matters pertaining to cannabis-related business formation and ongoing operational concerns. Our attorneys can offer expert legal representation in the event your business is ever alleged to have committed a violation of medical marijuana law.
By partnering with the Medical Cannabis Law Group, your cannabis-related service team can plan for short-term and long-term success without worrying about regulatory compliance. Our attorney can keep you up-to-date on the latest regulation changes and related issues that may affect your business to let you focus on your bottom line.
Marijuana legalization has opened the door to dynamic business opportunities. However, the requirements to become a licensed grower or dispensary operator are extremely strict, with good reason. If you’re considering launching a business for medical marijuana near Rockville, you should consult an attorney at law, especially if you have ever had criminal charges filed against you. When applying for a license, you will have to provide sets of legible fingerprints and personal information to the Director of the Central Repository so that a criminal background check may be conducted.
As you’ll learn by watching this video, it may be possible that the background check will reveal felony charges, even if the case was dismissed. This depends upon the extent of the background check. However, since the case was dismissed, it may not necessarily be held against you. It’s best to consult a lawyer for personalized legal guidance.
The decision to begin a new business is one that should not be undertaken lightly. There are many things to consider such as, “What should I sell?” or “Who are my customers?” and, “How should I deliver my product or service to my customers?” Now consider the additional challenges if you were operating a business in a regulated industry where a federal, state, or local government determines whether you can even operate your business? Or how much of your product you can sell? Or how the services you offer are required to be delivered. These are some of the challenges facing new companies opening in the burgeoning world of Cannabis-related business and services. Before planning your cannabusiness, you should meet with an attorney near Rockville who can help you understand the business of medical marijuana in Maryland.
Although medical cannabis in Maryland is still in its infancy, there is already an astonishing amount of regulations for new Cannabis businesses and their patrons. Once the cultivation centers and dispensaries are operational, all Cannabis-related businesses and services must be in full compliance with existing rules, regulations, and procedures to remain operational. Naturally, a strong relationship with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Cannabis laws, regulations, practices, procedures, and trends will be vital to the long term success of the business.
Despite Maryland’s recent legislation permitting the cultivation and sale of medical Cannabis, it is still possible to run into legal trouble. Unlike other industries, if you are not in compliance with local, state, or federal law, you might be engaging in criminal conduct. As there is so much at stake when beginning a Cannabis business or service, including money, time, and lost opportunity, this is not the time to learn the industry. Rather, this is the time when experienced counsel with experience in all aspects of the Cannabis business will be helpful to guide your decisions and support your business as it grows.
New and prospective business owners operating a Cannabis-related business or service are not immune to the need for capital. Once you or your business receive a license to operate a business in the Cannabis industry, the need for capital will increase as your customer base increases. This need for capital may include a desire for a new location, a need for additional expertise, to hire employees, or to expand facilities. However, unlike most other businesses, you also face the daunting task of paying “sin-taxes” levied by the State, finding a bank that will accept your money, as well as writing off ordinary business expenses due to the federal prohibition on such practice under IRS Code Section 280E.
Maryland’s medical marijuana laws changed in 2014 when Governor Martin O’Malley signed House Bill 881 into law. Under the new laws, licensed cannabis dispensaries can provide qualifying patients with medical marijuana as an alternative treatment without concern about fines or other legal consequences. A medical marijuana lawyer in Rockville can help you set up a legal dispensary and sell cannabis to qualifying patients. The requirements for receiving medical marijuana in Maryland include:
Only Maryland residents are eligible to purchase medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries in the state. In addition to presenting a valid medical marijuana card, patients must also provide proof of Maryland residency. Acceptable proofs of residency include a driver’s license or other state-issued identification card, a passport, a utility bill, or a bank statement.
Maryland marijuana patients must possess a documented condition that has been clearly outlined by the Medical Marijuana Commission and Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s list of qualifying conditions. Qualifying conditions include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, severe nausea, chronic pain, and epilepsy.
Application for Marijuana Card
An individual will need to submit an official application for a medical marijuana card to Maryland’s medical marijuana program. Legitimate medical records and written certification from a doctor must accompany the application as proof of a qualifying condition. Medical marijuana cards are issued by the Medical Marijuana Commission and Department of Health & Mental Hygiene after the application it approved and processed.
If you need help complying with Maryland’s complex marijuana regulations, contact a law firm in Rockville that specializes in providing counsel on medical cannabis in the state. A criminal law attorney can also help you in the event that you unknowingly sell cannabis to anyone with an invalid marijuana card.