By: Ben Barlow  [9/30/22]

If there is a constant to advising cannabis clients, it is that specific advice has a shelf life.  Whether questions of ‘when will retail applications be ready in Virginia?’ or ‘how much do I have to pay for a medical card?’ specific advice is only good until the underlying policies and regulations change.

Recent examples are tweaks Maryland made to its medical cannabis program over the past week.  In its September 22, 2022, meeting Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (“Commission”) made the following changes to the Maryland program:

Patients:

Patient Fees

The Commission adopted an amendment to regulations detailing medical cannabis patient fees and registration processes.  The Commission cut registration fees for new patients in half (from $50 to $25) while doubling the life of registrations (from 3 to 6 years).  For new patients, or patients with applications initiated but not submitted, the changes should be in effect now.  For existing Maryland Medical Cannabis patients, records should reflect the extended registration period by October 5, 2022.

Attestation

The Commission eliminated the requirement that patients complete and sign a patient attestation at a licensed dispensary and amended patient and caregiver applications to include the attestation statement.  This means that patients and caregivers no longer will have to fill out an attestation statement at a dispensary but rather will be able to read and acknowledge the attestation statement before submitting their application to the Commission.  That change will take effect via Maryland’s OneStop online portal by January 1, 2023.

Patient Signatures and Paper Documents

The Commission eliminated requirements for patient signatures and paper receipts.  Though suspended since the heart of COVID, the Commission formally eliminated the requirement for the wet signature and paper retention as of September 29, 2022.

Dispensary Agents/Employees:

Agent Registrations and Fee Changes

The Commission changed agent registration regulations and associated fees by:

  1. Cutting grower, processor, and dispensary agent fees in half (from $200 to $100);
  2. Allowing a registered agent to work at any licensed premises owned or controlled by the same entity;
  3. Allowing agents who separate from a business to have registrations reactivated without additional fingerprinting, criminal history checks, or paying additional fees if they are hired by another business during their 2-year registration period; and
  4. Eliminate the drug screening requirement for prospective agents.

A “Dispensary Agent” is defined by the Maryland Code as “an owner, a member, an employee, a volunteer, an officer or director of a licensed company.”[1]  The Commission changes how agents are hired (the drug testing requirement is removed), where an agent can work (rather than being restricted to a particular location the changes make clear that an agent can work at any licensed facility controlled by the same entity), the ease of changing positions (individuals no longer have to pay additional fees or redo background checks prior to new employment), and how much agents have to pay to be licensed.  All are significant changes aimed at streamlining the employment process for businesses and employees.

Aside from the elimination of the drug testing requirement, which will end as of October 17, 2022, agent changes will be implemented on the OneStop online portal by January 1, 2023.

Entities:

Clinical Directors

Rather than limiting ‘Clinical Director’ status to registered individuals, an entire entity may now qualify if all employees engaging with patients and caregivers are registered as clinical directors with the Commission.  The change will take effect via new registration forms available by January 1, 2023.

Edibles:

Delegation of Authority to Exempt Edible Products

The Commission delegated approval of certain exempted products to staff.[2]  Such delegation went into effect immediately (as of September 22, 2022).  The delegation is limited and the following conditions must be met:

  1. The licensed processor has submitted, and the Commission has approved, a valid certification in Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) that complies with 21 CFR Part 111 or 21 CFR Part 210;
  2. The product submitted is in a dosage form previously approved by the Commission; and
  3. The product submitted contains a THC amount per serving and per package previously approved by the Commission.

To learn about how Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig can assist you with your legal needs, contact us by calling 800-747-9354 or by emailing clientservices@dbllawyers.com.


[1] http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/comarhtml/10/10.62.01.01.htm

[2] Resolution Regarding Edible Cannabis Exemption Requests (September 22, 2022)_Redacted.pdf (maryland.gov)


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