Diversity Lacking in Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Market

Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled that the process of granting medical cannabis cultivation licenses in Maryland be halted until June 2, 2017. The usual anti-marijuana opponents of medicinal cannabis weren’t behind the opposition this time, but it was actually other growers whose reasoning is that the licenses were unfairly issued for reasons that may be revealed to be disturbing and racially based.

Of the 15 companies who were granted the preliminary approval to legally be cultivators of medical marijuana, none at all are led by African-Americans. The Cannabis Commission did not choose to rank Alternative Medicine Maryland among the top 15 companies seeking a license to grow. AMM, which is led by an African-American doctor from New York, filed a lawsuit last fall challenging the award process of The Commission.

The Legislative Black Caucus, in addition to Alternative Medicine Maryland, claim the process disproportionately excludes owners who are people of color. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission awarded preliminary licenses to 15 different companies, all of which have white owners. The commission was required by state law to encourage participation by minorities and to seek to achieve ethnic, geographic and racial diversity when issuing licenses to medical cannabis growers. The commission used geographic diversity as a criteria for selection, but they did not consider or inquire as to the applicant’s ethnic or racial identities. At this time, only one final license has been granted in Maryland, and it was to Forward Gro, which is based in Stevensville.

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera ordered a stay on proceedings in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The stay from the Court of Appeals prevents Judge Williams from extending his order.

Jack Paradise

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