Hollywood, MD – After a series of delays from the estimated time of arrival, medical marijuana licensing is back on track and the announcement of the first set of approved growing licenses may come sometime in August.

The process of bringing medically approved marijuana to the public has been a long time coming. Maryland House Bill 881 was signed into law in April of 2014 making Maryland the 21st state to approve medical use of the controversial plant. Since then, the state has been slow to process the applications for growing and distributing. Patrick Jameson, the former state trooper in charge of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, has criticized the slow and costly pace of the board’s decision making process. Further stifling the growth of medical marijuana options in the state, is the decision to allow just 15 licenses for growers and 15 licenses for processors for the entire state of Maryland, and an undetermined amount of dispensary licenses.

“It is my hope that Charles County gets at one of the licenses for all three of the applicable portions of medical cannabis,” said Commissioner Ken Robinson [D – District 1] of Charles County. “I would think that since we are a middle-of-the-state jurisdiction, I think we’re the tenth largest in population, I would expect that we would get at least one, we’re eligible for two.”

Robinson, who voted in March alongside fellow county commissioners 4-1 in favor of zoning medical marijuana practices in Charles County, has previously cited the important distinction between Maryland’s medical marijuana laws and the recreational laws of states like Colorado. Approaching the three-year mark between the passing of the medical marijuana law and its implementation, Maryland has been slow and cautious in its introduction of the new laws.

“I think it also indicates that the state has taken a very strong look at this to make sure we get it right instead of getting it done fast,” said Robinson, of the slow process. Though Maryland has been slow, and limiting in the number of available licenses, it has also granted the power to prescribe to many in the medical field, including dentists, podiatrists, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.

According to ArcView Market Research, $6.7 billion in marijuana sales will be expected for the United States in 2016. That number is also projected to reach $21.8 billion by 2020. For Maryland, the booming industry may arrive modestly.

“I’d like to think that it will be greater than it really will be, but it will be basically creating an additional small business or two in the county, which is a good thing, it’ll result in jobs, but nothing major,” said Robinson.

Phytagenesis is one applicant in the Charles County area, aiming to re-purpose Zekiah Farms for licenses to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana. The company has aimed to implement economical techniques in managing the growth of the medical product, including hydroponic equipment.

“We will be an ‘open-source’ for all information about the safety, use and benefits of medical cannabis, and will collaborate with any or all dispensaries, physicians, patients, caregivers, and community members,” said Phytagenisis in their updated mission statement.

Companies like Phytagenisis are anxiously awaiting the licensing announcements that may come as soon as August 5, but ultimately, it is their patients that can’t wait for the opening of this potential treatment option for various chronic pain relief needs. Based on growth time estimates, even if the announcement is made by early August, and companies are able to quickly implement their marijuana business plans, medical marijuana may not be more widely available to patients until 2017.