Cannabis Licensing Investigation Finds ‘No Evidence of Bias’ In Maryland

Maryland cannabis regulators have concluded their investigation into the state’s review process for medical cannabis license applications, finding “no evidence of bias” or influence by a former official who was prosecuted for accepting bribes.

Full story after the jump.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission uncovered “no evidence of bias or undue influence” in last year’s industry application review process and that former Del. Cheryl Glenn did not influence the process, the Baltimore Sun reports. Glen was convicted in July for taking bribes for legislative favors, including from medical cannabis companies seeking a state license.

The report authors, law firm Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, said that while the revelations regarding Glenn “were troubling,” her communications with the commission “were quite limited” and investigators “found no evidence that she improperly influenced the review process.”

Glenn, who had been a staunch supporter for medical cannabis and social equity in the state’s licensing, admitted to accepting $33,750 in five bribes over an 11-month period from 2018 to 2019. The first was a $3,000 payment in exchange for voting favorably to increase the number of medical cannabis cultivation licenses from 15 to 22 and capping processing licenses at 28. She accepted another $20,000 in bribes for requesting a bill be drafted to create new liquor licenses, and another $5,000 bribe for introducing a measure to lower the number of years of experience required for a medical director of opioid clinics.

Glen was sentenced to two years in prison for taking the bribes.

The report did find that several independent application evaluators from Morgan State University – including Shelonda Stokes, a member of the university’s Board of Regents, Joan Carter Conway, a current university employee and former state senator, and Gonna Anyadike, a technical support specialist at the school – did have conflicts of interest due to their relationships with cannabis industry applicants.

“These affiliations arguably violated a provision of the Commission’s implementing legislation designed to avoid conflicts of interest for third-party evaluators; however, we found no evidence that these applications were more, or less, favorably by either the MSU evaluators or Commission staff. Indeed, only one evaluator noticed that an individual affiliated with MSU was referenced in an application.” – “Report on Investigation Into the Potential Bias or Undie Influence in the 2019 Medical Marijuana Grower and Processor License Application Review Process.”

The investigation did exonerate former commission Executive Director Joy Strand over allegations that she was closely related to one of the applicants and that no university staffers had improperly communicated with the commission during the scoring process.

The MCCC is still investigating claims that information included in some submitted medical cannabis license applications was inaccurate.

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