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Md. Gets Its First Licensed Medical Marijuana Grower

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland has given its first go-ahead to grow medical marijuana.

Alex DeMetrick reports, a facility in Anne Arundel County is ready to start planting.

At ForwardGro, it's a greenhouse at warehouse scale -- an acre of growing space whose exact location WJZ was asked not to reveal due to its contents.

"We like to call it cannabis whenever possible, because that's the scientific term, and I think it's important we use that, because it is medicine," says Gail Rand, a patient advocate.

Medicine that helped cancer survivor Derek Beris during chemotherapy.

"Marijuana really helps ease that process of being able to intake food and digest and not have pain," Beris says.

Maryland now joins 20 other states where medical marijuana is legal to use.

The process harvests only the plant's blossoms. Plants will be grown in pots, and move between greenhouses open to the sun, to greenhouses that are shielded from direct sunlight on hot days.

"There's different light cycles we need to convert the plant into those different stages," Rand says.

ForwardGro is the first of 15 companies vying for growing rights.

Rand became the company's patient advocate when she discovered her young son's epilepsy might be helped with cannabis treatments.

"I have a friend who has a son that has the same type of epilepsy, and her son was seizure free for over three years on the medicine without pharmaceuticals," she says.

The first planting is only a few weeks off.

As for the first harvest, "we're optimistic we'll have this medicine by early fall," according to Rand.

More than 6,000 Marylanders have registered to use medical marijuana, and 275 doctors have registered to recommend the drug.

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