An open letter to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission

Good Day,

My name is ______________ and I am trying to become a legal cannabis patient in Maryland. I meet all the requirements. I am a state resident and have a qualifying condition. I registered on your website as required over a month ago. I am still waiting for you to approve my application and issue me a patient id number so I can complete the process and finally get access to the safe and natural medicine I want and need. Why are you making me wait so long?

With all due respect, I don’t understand what is taking so long. In my case as I’m sure is the case with most applications, I uploaded a picture of my driver’s license that clearly displays my current address. What more does the approval process entail besides verifying that the address on my license matches the address I entered on your application? Seems to me I could approve hundreds of such applications in a matter of a few hours. Why is it taking over 45 days? Let’s be honest, 45 days is a stretch to perform an address verification anyway.

Put yourself in my shoes for a minute. Understand the absurdity and frustration from my point of view. I have done my research and want to use cannabis to treat my condition and improve my quality of life. I followed the process and paid you, the state, $50.00 when I registered. I also paid a provider to examine me, review my medical history and approve my certification for medical cannabis. None of which is covered by insurance, nor will my medicine be covered. (Not that it’s your fault but I am curious what you are doing to encourage insurance companies to include cannabis expenses.) All I am waiting on is for you to issue me a patient ID number so my provider can enter it into your system. I’ve gone to my provider but there is nothing they can do. They need my patient ID number to complete the process and allow me to purchase my medicine. Imagine being prescribed medication for your chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes: cachexia, anorexia, wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another chronic medical condition but unable to obtain the medicine for over 45 days? Every day I wait for you to verify my address so I can obtain my life changing medicine is agony. I feel helpless as you already have my $50.00 and when I call you tell me there is nothing you can do, and I just have to wait. Keeping me from my legally recommended medicine is unacceptable. I thought this commission and program were put into place to help patients, not add to their anxiety.

Are there any cannabis patients on the board? Is there any one that acts as a patient advocate when you make policy or administer it? Is there anyone working on a solution to make this process faster for patients like me? Who is responsible for the over 45 day wait time and what is their plan for catching up the backlog and shortening the wait time? I’ve tried asking these questions when I have called the number listed on your website. While most of the representatives I have spoken to when you do actually have someone answering the calls have been apologetic and professional, no one has offered me a solution. Apologies are nice, but action is needed.

Here are two suggestions:

  • Ask for industry volunteers to help with the address verification process. Believe it or not, the commission taking over 45 days to approve applications really hurts a lot of cannabis businesses. These businesses are working hard to raise awareness and get people into the program at their own expense, ultimately hoping to serve them at their establishments. The commission taking over 45 days to approve applications makes the whole program look suspect. It also keeps more revenue from coming into the program. I’m sure some of these businesses would be willing to help as it ultimately helps their bottom line not to mention the patients themselves.

  • Work overtime or hire more workers to accommodate the amount of applications you are receiving. You can use the 3.5 million dollars or so you just received from all the MMCC card requests you just received after passing a law to require them.

My intent of this letter is not to belittle the commission, or anyone associated with the MMCC. I am merely trying to express that waiting for over 45 days to gain access to legally approved medicine is simply unacceptable. This is a call to uncover what is causing the delay and correct it.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Signed- A would be patient