A security guard at Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cumberland, Maryland, waits for people to arrive. (Ricky Carioti, The Washington Post)

Maryland more than doubles number of medical marijuana dispensaries

Maryland’s marijuana regulators on Thursday approved 12 new dispensaries to operate in the state’s fledgling legal medical marijuana industry, bringing the total number of fully-approved legal storefronts to 22.

At least 60 more dispensaries that received preliminary licenses are still awaiting final approval.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission gave the final sign-off to Positive Energy in Worcester County; Harvest of Maryland, Bloom Medicinals and Herbology in Montgomery County; Nature’s Cure and Wellness in Cecil County; Pure Life Medical and Medical Products and Services in Baltimore City; Revolution Relief and Zen Leaf in Howard County; Charm City Medicus and Temescal Wellness in Baltimore County; and Haven in Prince George’s County.

Related: “It’s a very tense situation”: Maryland dispensaries off to bumpy start with shortages, closures

The state’s legal medical marijuana industry launched its first sales earlier this month, following years of bureaucratic delay. Only a few of the state’s 15 approved marijuana growers are ready to deliver their crop to dispensaries and processors, so demand quickly outstripped what storefronts had on their shelves.

The state has a more than 10,000 patients fully certified to buy the drug in Maryland, the commission reported Thursday, and 712 health-care providers approved to write recommendations for the drug.

Thursday’s meeting was the first official public appearance with the commission for newly appointed executive director Joy Strand, the third director to lead the agency in two years. Her most recent predecessor stepped down in November.

“If someone had asked me five years ago, ‘would I be here today?,’ it would have been the furthest thing from my mind, but I think God puts things in front of you when you’re ready to accept the challenge,” said Strand, a longtime health-care executive who is new to the cannabis industry.

“I’m still on my honeymoon, so I ask your forgiveness for any missteps,” she added.