The State of Cannabis Legislation & Licensing: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, D.C.

Cannabis Business Licensing in DC

Newly introduced to the cannabis world within the education sector is the nation’s first master’s degree program in medical cannabis through the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Both on campus and online, classes in this two-year program will include basic science, clinical use, adverse effects and public health, and federal and state laws and policies. This is just one sign that progress is being made throughout the northeast region. Let’s take a look at marijuana legalization and cannabis business licensing in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington D.C., as of June 2019.

Maryland Cannabis Business Licensing

Cannabis is legal for medical use in Maryland. Possession of 10 grams or less is decriminalized. Recently, the sale of edible medical marijuana products was legalized. Additionally, the Maryland General Assembly has convened a task force to study cannabis legalization in the state. Findings and conclusions will help determine if the full legislature will consider legalizing cannabis for adult use in the state next session or put the issue to voters via a ballot initiative. Criminal justice, public health, and best approaches regarding licensing, taxation and social equity will be considered by the task force.

Maryland currently has 15 licensed medical cannabis cultivators, 18 processors, and 77 operational dispensaries. Applications for an additional four medical cannabis grower and 10 processor licenses closed June 24, after a month-long extension from the original close date. The application fee for medical cannabis growers and processors was $2,000 for each type of license. The state pre-approved 102 companies as medical cannabis dispensaries and 77 are currently active in business. The application fee was $1,000.

Pennsylvania Cannabis Business Licensing

Cannabis is legal for medical use in Pennsylvania. Possession of small amounts is decriminalized. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman launched a 2019 ‘Listening Tour’ aimed to directly receive public opinion regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania, where all 67 counties were visited. Results are pending, including the information from the 35,000 online submissions received.

Recently, the Pennsylvania Health Department launched a private-public partnership with three medical cannabis companies and three universities to conduct clinical research on the efficacy of medical cannabis, including effectiveness for the 21 conditions that qualify access to the state’s medical cannabis program, as well as additional ailments.

The Office of Medical Marijuana is not currently accepting applications from new growers, processors, or dispensaries. Previously, the grower and processor application fee was $10,000 with a $200,000 permit fee, and proof of $2 million in capital, while the dispensary application fee was $5,000 with a $30,000 permit fee, and proof of $150,000 in capital.

West Virginia Cannabis Business Licensing

Cannabis is legal for medical use in West Virginia. Despite recent successful legislation regarding this issue, the launch of the medical cannabis program may be delayed up to three years due to the concern about the ability of MMJ companies to secure banking services. Indication of the state’s feel towards decriminalization materialized in early June, when voters in Salem, West Virginia, rejected a local marijuana decriminalization measure during a city election.

The Bureau for Public Health will issue medical cannabis permits in West Virginia initially for no more than 10 growers and 10 processors. Only one individual grower or processor permit will be allowed per person, and a grower or a processor may not be a dispensary. The grower and processor application fee of $5,000 is non-refundable; the permit fee of $50,000 is refundable if the permit is not granted. Permits will be initially issued for no more than 30 dispensaries, with no more than five in any region and the limit of two individual dispensary permits per person. The dispensary application fee of $2,500 is non-refundable; the permit fee of $10,000 is refundable if the permit is not granted.

Virginia Cannabis Business Licensing

Cannabis is illegal to use in all forms in Virginia. CBD oil or THC-A oil is allowed for up to 10 mg of THC as a treatment for severe epilepsy with a doctor’s recommendation. Governmental support of decriminalization is gaining momentum, while nearly three-quarters of Virginia voters favor decriminalization, as polled in 2018.

State licensed pharmaceutical processors may cultivate, process, and dispense the CBD extracts to patients. The Board of Pharmacy issued conditional approval to five applicants in 2018. It is anticipated these pharmaceutical processors will be operational in the fall of 2019, following construction and board inspection.

Washington, D.C. Cannabis Business Licensing

Cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in D.C. but is barred from commercial sale and use in public and on federal lands, including national parks, national forests, and military property. In Washington, D.C., all individuals aged 21 years and older may possess, grow, and use marijuana. Qualified medical patients may possess, use, and access medical marijuana. State-licensed organizations may grow, process, and dispense marijuana for medical purposes only.

In 2013 and 2014, Washington, D.C. licensed a very limited number of medical dispensaries and cultivation centers. No system is currently in place for additional cannabis business licensing in Washington D.C. Because of the unique balance between state and federal rulings which prohibits the sale of cannabis, the loophole has been exploited by local businesses. Most commonly, donations are accepted and cannabis is given as a bonus, or small (and large) items are sold with cannabis being given as a ‘free gift’. Legal charges in these situations vary, being both upheld and dropped.

The BEST Cannabis Expo to Learn, Network, and Develop

The best way to be in the know within the ever-changing world of marijuana is to establish channels of knowledge and create new relationships in all aspects of the industry. Attend a CannaCon convention in your area to do just that! As a cannabis convention, marijuana trade show, hemp expo, and MMJ product showcase all rolled into one event, this is a genuine opportunity to expand your business, your network, and your mind. 

Registration is now open for CannaCon Northeast Aug. 23-24 and CannaCon South Sept. 27-28.

Interested in other states?

Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio

Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota

New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts

North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas

Cannabis Business Licensing in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

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