Over two years after legalizing medical marijuana statewide, Maryland is beginning to take the next steps forward to push the program closer to finally regulating the sale of medical cannabis.

Since the initial legalization in 2013, the state is almost ready to begin issuing business licenses for cultivation centers and dispensaries. The set state regulations allow for 94 dispensaries, including two per state senate district. Products to be sold at these dispensaries will be grown throughout 15 facilities. Aside from growing at these 15 locations, they cannabis will be turned into medical products, such as pills and oil.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission will begin accepting applications this month, meaning that marijuana used for medical reasons will be available for purchase by the end of 2016.

The legalization has met backlash from elected officials, including Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, who is proposing a ban on the production of cannabis and dispensaries within his county. Schuh said that the loose regulations on who can grow and purchase cannabis are creating what is basically a recreational cannabis system. The reselling of cannabis on the black market and potential dispensary robberies have led to Schuh’s stance against the program.

Throughout other areas of the state, Republican leaders are accepting the cannabis businesses in hopes of creating more job opportunities in their counties.

State laws approved over the last two years allow for private manufacturing of medical marijuana and retail shops, as long as the local zoning and planning laws are followed by the facilities.

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