Out-of-state cannabis giants once again grew their territory within Maryland’s medical cannabis industry on Thursday with approval from state regulators.
The biggest winner from Thursday’s meeting of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) was Trulieve, a Florida-based company with retail, growing and processing operations in 11 states. In an ongoing trend of consolidation, commissioners unanimously and without discussion approved transfers of ownership interest in multiple dispensaries to Truelieve.
The company now owns the state’s maximum of four dispensaries, having absorbed Amedicanna in Halethorpe, Harvest of Maryland in Rockville and the dispensary formerly known as Your Farmacy in Lutherville-Timonium. Trulieve announced the acquisitions of Amedicanna and Harvest’s Towson and Rockville dispensaries in May.
The commission also greenlit Trulieve’s acquisition of Harvest’s growing operation while approving a separate license transfer for Harvest of Maryland’s processing arm.
Regulators denied Trulieve’s application to acquire Harvest’s processing arm in August because under state rules, a processor must wait at least three years to transfer its license. But on Thursday, commissioners approved a similar transfer of 95% of Harvest’s interest to an LLC called HMDP Holdings Inc. that state records show was created this month. While the transfer still fell short of the three-year window, Commissioner Tiffany Randolph explained that it was allowed because the entity “that currently holds a majority controlling interest [in the license] will continue to do so,” and described it as a “corporate restructuring” rather than a new buyer taking over. The explanation did not raise any objections from other commissioners or staff.
The Town of Hancock, home to Harvest’s processing and growing business, is retaining a 5% stake in both operations and the Rockville dispensary that Trulieve has taken over.
Regulators also approved two dispensary license acquisitions by PharmaCann, a multistate operator that runs the Verilife dispensary brand in six states including Maryland. The Chicago-based company took over Euphoria Wellness, located in New Market in Frederick County, and Elevate Takoma in Prince George’s County, adding to its two other Maryland Verilife locations in Rockville and Westminster. PharmaCann acquired Stevensville-based grower and processor ForwardGro earlier this year, and has another such operation in Lothian.
Outside of license transfers dominated by MSOs, the MMCC voted to offer an olive branch to the 11 processors and growers and six dispensaries that were pre-approved to join Maryland’s medical cannabis market during an expansion phase in October 2020.
The dispensaries had been given until 90 days after Maryland’s Covid-19 state of emergency, which Gov. Larry Hogan ended on July 1, to secure a building and associated permits to set up shop, but had requested more time due to pandemic-related hardships. The 11 pre-approved growers and processors similarly “all faced significant issues regarding permitting” as well as “issues relating to zoning that are completely outside of their control,” said Taylor Kasky, the commission’s director of policy and government affairs.
Regulators voted to give all of the businesses until the end of March 2022 to get their ducks in a row.
William Tilburg, executive director of the commission, said Maryland logged $46.3 million in retail medical cannabis sales in August, bringing the year’s total to $429 million. The state is on track to surpass $575 million in sales for all of 2021, a “sizable increase” from last year’s tally of about $450 million, he said.