Bill to diversify Maryland's medical marijuana industry amended

Legislation designed to diversify Maryland’s medical marijuana industry is going through significant changes because it can’t legally be done the way the bill sponsor intended.

Considered a priority, the first bill introduced in the Senate on the issue may be one of the last to end up on the governor’s desk. It has been a rough legislative road filled with legal obstacles.

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The intent of the bill originally was to increase the opportunities for minorities to get licenses. Only one of the processing companies has minority ownership.

Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn has a vested interest in diversifying Maryland’s medical marijuana industry. As chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Glenn said the issue is a priority. She also co-sponsored a bill that created the Medical Cannabis Commission that’s named after her late mother. Glenn, who has osteoarthritis, is a medical marijuana patient.

“We have a litany of people who are ready to apply for those licenses, who have the money to get these businesses up and running,” Glenn said.

The state attorney general determined it is unconstitutional to set aside licenses for minorities, even through a disparity study concluded that minority-owned companies faced disadvantages in the industry.

Bill amendments established 15 new licenses: five for growing and 10 for processing. The Legislative Black Caucus hit the pause button on white licensed growers who applied for a processing license. Changes to the bill allows applicants to get a license.

“You can’t throw those guys out or the state will be subject to lawsuits from all of them, but if they can find a way to broaden it and be more inclusive, we are all for it,” Gov. Larry Hogan said.

Glenn is OK with that, in part, because it is

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