Ce­cil com­pany gets li­cense to grow med­i­cal mar­i­juana

Sunday Star - - BUSINESS - By BRAD KRONER bkro­ner@ches­pub.com

BEL AIR — SunMed Grow­ers, a War­wick-based med­i­cal cannabis grower, of­fi­cially re­ceived its full li­cense to grow med­i­cal cannabis dur­ing an Aug. 28 meet­ing of the Mary­land Med­i­cal Cannabis Com­mis­sion.

By re­ceiv­ing the li­cense, SunMed be­comes the ninth li­censed grower in the state. Two other grow­ers, Grow West of Gar­rett County and Shore Nat­u­ral RX of Wi­comico County, also were li­censed dur­ing the meet­ing.

The SunMed Grow­ers fa­cil­ity in­cludes a 60,000-square-foot, glasstopped green­house and an 18,000-square-foot steel build­ing that fea­tures of­fice space for 40 em­ploy­ees, a locker room, a cafe­te­ria and a stor­age fa­cil­ity.

While he only an­tic­i­pates hav­ing 15 em­ploy­ees and the ex­ist­ing green­house at the on­set, Ja­cob Van Winger­den, chief of­fi­cer of SunMed Grow­ers, said the build­ing has enough of­fice space to hire more em­ploy­ees, and the prop­erty has ample space to build ad­di­tional green­house space later on, if de­mand war­rants ex­pan­sion.

The first com­pany to re­ceive its full li­cense to grow med­i­cal cannabis was For­ward Gro, an Anne Arun­del County grower. Eight oth­ers re­ceived li­censes at the dead­line to be op­er­a­tional, which was Aug. 15.

SunMed re­ceived its in­spec­tion on the day of the dead­line, so the pa­per­work could not be pro­cessed in time. How­ever, dur­ing the meet­ing, com­mis­sion of­fi­cials said that SunMed’s fa­cil­ity was fully com­pli­ant with lo­cal and state laws and com­pletely con­sis­tent with the terms of its ap­pli­ca­tion.

In­spec­tors found no fac­tors that would pro­hibit li­cen­sure. Thus, the com­mis­sion rec­om­mended ap­proval.

Call­ing the ap­proval a “for­mal­ity” be­fore the meet­ing, Van Winger­den said he was con­fi­dent the com­pany would be fully li­censed.

Af­ter the meet­ing, he told his team, “We’ve got to get to work to­mor­row.”

“It’s full steam ahead,” he said.

Weeks ago, un­cer­tainty sur­rounded the state’s med­i­cal cannabis in­dus­try due to po­ten­tial le­gal bat­tles. Al­leg­ing that the com­mis­sion did not fairly con­sider mi­nor­ity-owned grow­ers and pro­ces­sors, a group of mi­nor­ity-owned busi­nesses took le­gal ac­tion against the com­mis­sion.

Fol­low­ing that law­suit, the com­mis­sion ar­gued that its process was fair, ex­plain­ing that com­pa­nies were eval­u­ated solely on the mer­its of their ap­pli­ca­tions, with per­sonal in­for­ma­tion redacted.

Cir­cuit Court Judge Barry Wil­liams, froze the process for 10 days, a mo­tion that was later blocked by the Mary­land Court of Ap­peals. Since then, the process has con­tin­ued with­out de­lay.

Van Winger­den said he doesn’t fore­see these le­gal bat­tles threat­en­ing his li­cense in the fu­ture.

“The le­gal bat­tles were a huge road­block, but I think we’re past that,” he said. “What my lawyers have told me is we now have a vested prop­erty right, and that can­not be taken away from me with­out due process.”

With the li­cense in hand, Van Winger­den said the com­pany will get to work quickly.

“We’ll have the first plants in the ground in the next 30 days,” he said. “There’s a process now we have to go through with the com­mis­sion to reg­is­ter our em­ploy­ees, and get ready to fall in line with their track­ing sys­tem, and get­ting all those steps go­ing.”

Cannabis ma­tures in roughly four months, so SunMed’s first batch will be ready in De­cem­ber or Jan­uar y.

PHOTO BY BRAD KRONER

SunMed Grow­ers Pres­i­dent Jake Van Winger­den looks on as the Mary­land Med­i­cal Cannabis Com­mis­sion makes its rec­om­men­da­tion on li­cens­ing his com­pany to grow med­i­cal cannabis.

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