Maryland marijuana dispensaries learn how to do business

February 28, 2017 | Geoff Marshall

By George Lettis for WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore

From the complicated science of cannabis to the practical issues of a business, Americans for Safe Access also trains people to deal with the legal limbo of medical marijuana.

 

 

FULTON, Md. — Buying marijuana for medicinal purposes only is still months away in Maryland, but the industry is gearing up for the logistical and legal issues of selling cannabis products.

Some of Maryland's first dispensaries spent Monday learning, from soup to nuts, how to run a cannabis business.

Dr. Jahan Marcu is the chief science officer at Americans for Safe Access, a nonprofit that recently released a study of medical marijuana dispensaries in other states.

"Eighty percent of dispensary staff were trained without scientific or medical information involved in their training," Marcu said.

Marcu trains medical marijuana companies on the product they sell and the wide range of unique implications of operating such a business.

"We're talking about ancient history, modern medicine and really redefining what medicine is," Marcu said.

From the complicated science of cannabis to the practical issues of a business, Americans for Safe Access also trains people to deal with the legal limbo of medical marijuana.

"What do you do when the (Drug Enforcement Administration) knocks at your door of your dispensary? And so we also train our members to be able to deal with federal law enforcement encounters," Marcu said.

Operating a medical marijuana company is legal in Maryland, but it's technically a federal crime.

"So every day that you go into work, every dollar that you earn, frankly, even being in this room talking about how to set up a cannabis operation, is aiding and abetting a federal crime, and so you have to walk this line," said Darren Weiss. He runs the newly formed cannabis division of the Howard County law firm Offit Kurman, which represents medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries.

The Trump administration has indicated it would abide by a federal directive defunding enforcement efforts as long as medical marijuana businesses follow certain business rules.

But just in case, Monday's training has a section on how to respond to a raid.

"(Attorney General) Jeff Sessions could issue a memo this afternoon, saying, 'You can forget everything that we've done in the past, and we're now going to crack down on these businesses,' and so it's just preparing for the unexpected," Weiss said.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Maryland, but a Goucher Poll released Monday indicates 58 percent of respondents would support legalizing it while 36 percent would not.



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