Maryland has been on the growing list of states allowing medical marijuana for almost four years—this, despite not a single patient receiving a scrap of legal cannabis in that time. Patients and doctors are still waiting for the state to complete its excruciatingly slow rollout of what should be simple policy—a doctor recommends, a grower grows, a patient uses; it’s not that complicated—and in the meantime, a growing legion of scammers are taking advantage of people tired of waiting.
Cheaters and hustlers are pushing fake medical-marijuana recommendations and phony “preapprovals” for medical cannabis to unsuspecting sick people in Maryland, the Washington Post reported.
Scams also include bogus medical-marijuana cards intended for patients—which Maryland’s medical-marijuana program doesn’t require in the first place.
The state’s Medical Cannabis Commission has received 20 messages from the public inquiring about possible bogus claims made by cannabis companies, or enterprising cheats passing themselves off as cannabis companies, according to the Post.
“They’re taking advantage of them because people are so desperate for the medication,” Darrell Carrington, executive director of the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association, told the Washington Post.
Maryland’s medical marijuana program, first created in unworkable form in 2013 and updated in 2014, is expected to become fully workable sometime in 2017.
Currently, doctors can join an online state registry that will be used to certify sick people to use cannabis, though patients can’t yet join the registry, the Post reported.
Once they can, they’ll be able to acquire cannabis from one of the 15 companies that’s received a state license to grow.
None of those companies have dispensed any medicine, and won’t be able to begin until “late 2017,” the Post reported.
Physicians’ recommendations to use cannabis are good for 120 days, and patients can acquire a 30-day supply at a time. No home grows are allowed—and unlike other states, the only valid form of medical marijuana identification comes from the state.
With such a long gestation period, it was inevitable that marijuana users would get antsy—or desperate. And desperate people are easy to manipulate.
The Post didn’t ID any wrongdoers by name, nor did state regulators say what penalties they might face, though they did insist they’re taking it serious.
“This type of fraudulent activity preys against the most vulnerable people in society, and we will do everything possible to stop this behavior,” Patrick Jameson, executive director of the state’s Medical Cannabis Commission, told the Post in a statement.
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