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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland's medical marijuana commission on Wednesday released details on how top applicants to grow and process marijuana in the state were ranked. The rankings named two growers that were bumped out of the top 15 and two that were moved up due to geographical considerations.
Holistic Industries in Prince George's County and Shore Naturals Rx in Worcester County initially weren't among the top 15 applicants now in line to be licensed to grow marijuana. But they were moved up into the top 15 in order to meet geographic representation in accordance with the law. The decision to make the changes was announced by the commission, shortly before it voted on the top 15 applicants for both growers and processors at an Aug. 5 meeting.
Holistic Industries' partners include Josh Genderson, who already grows medical marijuana in the District of Columbia, and former state health secretary Nelson Sabatini. Sabatini was health secretary under two governors: William Donald Schaefer, a Democrat, and Robert Ehrlich, a Republican. Gerard Evans, Maryland's top-earning lobbyist, also worked for the applicant. Holistic Industries made the top 15 to be both a grower and a processor.
"We're just very happy that we got in the mix and we think Prince George's County is an exciting place to be setting up a new business and we're looking forward," Evans said.
Shore Naturals Rx is registered to Erick Bruder, of Ocean Pines.
Holistics Industries and Shore Naturals Rx initially ranked in spots 20 and 21.
MD Cultivation and Processing in Frederick County and GTI Maryland in Washington County were two applicants that originally placed in the top 15, but were bumped back to spots 16 and 17.
The commission released the rankings for the top 20 growers and the top 30 processor rankings.
The top 15 will go through extensive background checks, financial due diligence and inspections during the next phase of a two-stage approval process. If any of them do not get licensed, applicants next in line in the rankings will be considered.
"There were many highly-qualified grower and processor applicants," the commission said on its website in announcing the rankings. "However, the commission was limited to granting up to 15 grower pre-approvals due to statutory limitations issued by the legislature. The commission temporarily limited the number of processor pre-approvals to 15 due to resource management."
The commission noted that the commission used a "double-blind" review process. Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute was enlisted by the commission to review, evaluate and rank the applications without knowing the applicants' names. The commission also voted on the top applicants only by a coded number without the names of the companies.