Last Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) migrated their website to Maryland’s statewide licensing portal, One Stop, causing technical interruptions which prevented many medical cannabis patients from purchasing their medication.
When dispensaries opened Tuesday morning, the website they typically use to check a patient’s identification, photo, doctor’s information and most importantly—their monthly allotment—had vanished, preventing them from making any sales. Certifying physicians who have to renew their patient’s medical cannabis certifications each year were unable to recertify the list of their patients whose certification expired while the system was (and still is) not working.
While dispensaries were eventually permitted to use an internal system work-around to check in patients whose certification was not expired, they still have no access to their doctor’s information or identification photo which makes matching the patient to their ID number significantly more difficult. Certifying physicians, who rely solely on the state certification portal to register, certify and track their patients, were unable to access any information about their patients in addition to being unable to recertify anyone whose certification expired while the website was down.
Meredith Shelton, a nurse practitioner who is licensed to certify patients for medical cannabis in Maryland, said the MMCC, “have successfully made it so that we can only provide care through their portal, so that nothing can be done unless this website is up.”
Shelton stressed to The Outlaw Report some of the patients affected by the website’s problems.
“I have patients using [cannabis] for cancer treatment, or for managing side effects of their cancer treatment. I have patients using it for seizures,” Shelton said. “There are times they don’t have access to their medication because of a website, and that is completely irresponsible.”
Jessica Morgan is an assistant manager at a dispensary in Towson who used Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), a form of pure cannabis oil, to treat her own stomach cancer.
“I wouldn’t have been able to make it more than a day or two without being able to get medication,” Morgan said in an interview on Friday. We are already going on day three/four.”
Though some doctors were able to get in touch with the MMCC to have their One Stop account fixed so they could certify patients, there are still numerous technical issues that have not yet been addressed which continue to affect physicians, dispensaries and patients almost a week since the new website launched.
For example, any patient who does not have a physical medical cannabis card (patients who were certified in August 2020 are still waiting for their card from the MMCC) cannot print out a temporary certification which previously enabled them to purchase without the card. Patients also no longer have access to their unique patient ID number which would allow dispensaries to look up their certifications using the work-around, preventing many new—or cardless—patients from making any purchases.
“We have elderly patients who are unable to restock what they need for the month. We have many patients in a ton of pain with no way to help because the system is down,” Morgan said. “They can’t get recertified, and they can’t go to a new dispensary that sells the medication they need.”
Even if certifying physician’s new One Stop accounts were fixed and they were able to resume recertifying patients, system delays prevented the renewed certifications from reflecting in the work-around method dispensaries are still relying on as of today to view patient allotments.
Morgan said in the days following the new system launch many patients came into the dispensary whose doctor told them their certification was renewed and they would be able to purchase medical cannabis again. Due to ongoing system delays, dispensaries were not able to view any of this information and were left with an understandably frustrated and disgruntled patient still unable to access their medication.
“Dispensaries have been considered an essential business during the pandemic because of issues like these where patients rely on this medication without interruption. Some patients’ lives depend on it,” Morgan said.
Any patient who is still struggling to register with the One Stop portal should make sure they are using the same email they used for their original registration on the former MMCC website. In theory, your medical cannabis certification should transfer automatically, but mine has yet to appear due to ongoing technical delays.
Even if your certification is reflected on your account, you will be unable to check your monthly allotment and can instead contact a dispensary you have visited before that has your patient ID number on file who will be able to access your allotment via the state’s internal system. For those needing recertification, contact your certifying physician and hope their One Stop account is one of the few working as it should.
The Outlaw Report reached out to the MMCC for comment but has not received one. This story will be updated if/when the MMCC responds.