A Maryland special legislative session on medical marijuana has been denied. Since marijuana pre-approval licenses were announced in 2016, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has been accused of ignoring a law requiring it to consider racial diversity.
A second lawsuit argues the commission improperly boosted lower-ranked companies in order to achieve geographic diversity. It's been a thorne in the side of the commission and the medical marijuana program since Maryland legalized medical marijuana in 2013.
The commission denies all allegations, but the process has seen significant delays. Adding to mounting frustrations by those seeking more diversity in the state's cannabis business owners is a letter from the General Assembly’s Democratic presiding officers which have denied the call from black lawmakers to summon the full legislature this summer.
The Baltimore Sun reports, "the all-Democratic Legislative Black Caucus has implored its colleagues in the legislature to authorize more lucrative licenses to grow the drug after none of the 15 awarded last year went to firms owned by African-Americans."
Meanwhile, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is in the process of issuing final licenses to growers, processors and dispensaries. Maryland's medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to open this fall.
Baltimore Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, doesn't know when African-American companies will get the chance to win licenses in Maryland. “African-Americans will be behind the eight-ball once again,” she said.
A majority of registered Maryland voters believe that cannabis use should be legally regulated in a manner similar to alcohol, according to statewide polling data provided by Gonzalez Research & Marketing Strategies and commission by the Marijuana Policy Project.
Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they favor a change in state law “to allow marijuana to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, for legal use by adults 21 years of age and older.” Forty-three percent of those surveyed opposed legalization in the state of Maryland.