I asked myself this question as I scanned through various articles online stating Maryland had approved medical cannabis consumption (HB 881) back in 2013, but to this day has not gotten its’ medical program off the ground.

What’s the Hold-Up? 

  1. There were 146 applicants for the 15 licenses the law currently allows.
  2. Green Thumb Industries and GTI Maryland filed lawsuits in May after they were bumped out of the top 15 by the commission and replaced by two other applicants in order to fulfill geographic diversity stipulations in the law (Leafly).
  3. Along with the two lawsuits filed against the commission, a third filed by another applicant was made this year.  John Pica represents Alternative Medicine Maryland (the applicant) and argues that regulators failed to consider minority ownership despite a legal mandate to “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity (Washington Post). Alternative Medicine calls for the panel to stop taking further action on awarding licenses until it follows a provision in state law requiring diversity to be considered in the process.
  4. Until mid-August, only one applicant (ForwardGro) had received final permission to begin growing cannabis. With the approval of eight more cultivators this month, production is expected finally to ramp up. Cultivators will be expected to supply a planned 102 dispensaries across the state of Maryland.

The main issue…

Of the 15 cultivator licenses that were up for approval, none were granted to African American applicants—an outcome the state explicitly tried to avoid when crafting state licensing rules.

“The statute states the commission shall actively seek to achieve ethnic, racial and geographic diversity in awarding medical cannabis grower licenses, so they went out of their way to achieve geographic diversity but didn’t do anything to achieve racial diversity,” John Pica explained (Leafly).

Final Thoughts…

I hope the commission reconsiders its’ actions on awarding licenses to applicants until it has addressed the allegations above. At this point, from what I have researched it sounds like they broke the law by not having at least one person of color awarded a license at the end. The whole point of having rhetoric in the statute that ensures diversity be mandated in the selection process is to provide a fair selection process for everyone seeking licenses.

Stay tune for further updates!

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