(Dec. 28, 2018) Two medical marijuana dispensaries made it to West Ocean City in 2018, six years after the Maryland General Assembly legalized cannabis for medical purposes.
Following years of preparation and bid process considerations, the state cleared the way for growers, processors and purveyors.
Positive Energy at Jerry Mack Road in West Ocean City opened on Jan. 25, and Hi-Tide Dispensary on Marjan Lane, also in West Ocean City, opened on April 4.
Maryland law permits two dispensaries in Senate District 38, which encompasses Somerset, Worcester and portions of Wicomico counties.
As of December 2016, preliminary approval had just been granted to two candidates, with another round of considerations and procedures ahead. That entailed criminal background investigations, financial due diligence, compliance inspections, raising capital and securing local zoning approvals for the facilities.
Only after satisfying all those criteria would the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission then vote whether to grant the licenses.
Even then, the slow pace of the state approval process held things up longer than anticipated. Some of the delay was because of the number of applicants for dispensary permits.
As of August 2016, state regulators still had to cull through 811 applications for the 94 dispensary licenses that would be issued.
In addition, Maryland’s licensing process was seen by some as overly complicated and, in some aspects, unfair.
It took three years for Positive Energy, which is owned by the Odachowski family and managed by Lyndsey Odachowski, to open in January, while Robert Davis, owner of Hi-Tide, thought he’d be running in February, which became March and, finally, April.
If the process seemed to drag on forever for clients, suppliers and the businesses themselves, the legalization and eventual provision of medical marijuana moved at light speed as compared to the push to eliminate county government control of alcohol sales in Worcester County.
That effort began in earnest in 1998 and didn’t occur until 2016.