If you need to get in touch with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, there are two phone numbers to call listed on their website. Whether or not someone picks up the phone is a different story.
The Outlaw Report called both numbers on May 25 during business hours. Each time, an automated message played warning about long wait times due to an influx of callers before placing us on hold to wait for a representative.
After exactly fifteen minutes on hold, in both calls, the classical music stopped playing and an automated voice said “nobody is available to answer your call,” suggesting we leave a message. We tried both numbers a second time with the same result.
The Outlaw Report did not have to get in touch with the MMCC for anything urgent. But every day statewide, many patients do.
A Maryland medical dispensary receptionist, Iris, spoke to The Outlaw Report about this issue but requested her last name be withheld. Iris has worked in a dispensary for almost three years and said it’s not uncommon for patient allotments to be incorrect in the MMCC database.
She said when a patient needs to dispute their allotment, or if their doctor’s certification is not reflected in the system, they have to call the MMCC.
“That’s when [the patients] say ‘I try to, but I can never get a hold of anyone,’ and we have to tell them there’s not much we can do,” Iris said.
And if the MMCC won’t answer the phone, Iris said some patients take out their frustration on dispensary employees.
“The customer abuse is unreal,” she said. “It’s plain and simple: I have no control over it,”
But she understands why patients lash out: “We have patients going through chemotherapy, fibromyalgia. My boyfriend has fibromyalgia, it’s important for him to get [cannabis] so he can function at his job. It’s medical cannabis for a reason,” Iris said.
Iris recalled back in February when the MMCC migrated their website to the Maryland One Stop statewide licensing portal and the patient database was suddenly unavailable.
When the MMCC portal is down, dispensary employees are able to circumvent this using Metrc, the seed-to-sale system used by the state that also has access to patients’ allotments. However, when the MMCC database moved to the One Stop portal, many patient allotments were inaccurate on Metrc too, with some inexplicably in the negative.
There is a Reddit discussion board, r/MDEnts, for Maryland medical cannabis patients. Over the last few months, multiple users have complained to the subreddit about negative allotments and their inability to get in touch with the MMCC.
“Just went to the dispo and they told me I have a negative allotment (which I know isn’t true) so I wasn’t able to pick up [cannabis]. They said to call the MMCC but of course it’s just a voicemail,” one user posted.
Someone else said, “I had to call [the MMCC] eight times and stay on hold 15 minutes each time until I got through.”
When it comes to answering the phone, Iris said the MMCC became even less responsive after the website switched over, presumably from an influx of calls from patients unable to check their allotment or purchase cannabis at the dispensary.
“They’ve always been bad, but [the website] definitely made it worse,” Iris said.