Legislators say that efforts to diversify medical marijuana in Maryland move forward after amendments to the bill are made. In January, a disparity study ordered by Gov. Larry Hogan determined that women and minorities lack representation in the industry. Currently, minorities own only one of the cannabis processing companies licensed by the state.
Lawmakers had hoped to set aside a portion of the state’s medical marijuana licenses for businesses with minority ownership. But Attorney General Brian Frosh determined such a plan would violate the state’s constitution.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan added that reserving licenses for minorities would expose the state to litigation from white business owners denied permits.
“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,” he told local media.
Lawmakers Seek Alternate Plan
Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn is the chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus. She also has arthritis and uses medical marijuana to treat it. She said that she has prioritized increasing diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry.
“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.
As a solution, members of the House of Delegates introduced House Bill 2 (HB 2) at the beginning of the legislative session. The bill mandates changes to the state medical marijuana commission’s structure and operations. The measure also includes several provisions to encourage minority involvement in the industry.
HB 2 would increase the number of commissioners that serve on the regulatory body to eight. It also requires the board’s membership to at least somewhat reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the state. The