Just 10 percent of cannabis industry investors in Maryland are people of color, according to Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission data outlined by the Capital News Service. Those investors also usually own small shares in the company; for example, Green Medical Leaf (gLeaf) has 34 Black investors who collectively own about 21 percent of the firm.
Additionally, gLeaf’s 34 Black investors account for about 75 percent of all Black investors in the Maryland cannabis industry.
White men make up two-thirds of all cannabis investors in the state, followed by white women, men of color, and women of color. Of the 26 Maryland companies licensed to cultivate or process cannabis, just four – HMS Health, Seven Points Agro, Kind Therapeutics, and Chesapeake Alternatives – are majority-owned by women or people of color, according to state data. Only Seven Points and HMS Health are entirely owned by people of color. Pro Green Medical is the only other company in the state where more than 30 percent ownership is held by people of color.
There is no sector of the state’s cannabis industry where women of color comprise more than 5 percent of investors.
In 2018, Maryland lawmakers approved a bill to address the lack of minority groups awarded licenses during the first licensing phase. That bill was championed in the House of Delegates by Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D) who had initially called out the state’s licensing process for excluding minorities and created an additional four grow and 10 processing licenses, requiring that 15 percent of applicants’ scores reflect the racial and gender diversity of the business’ ownership and employees. Those points required that applicants show 51 percent of company ownership is held by racial minorities, women, or so-called economic empowerment applicants – people living in economically distressed areas.
Last October, state cannabis regulators announced they would investigate the cannabis licensing review process and the veracity of information included in applications by high-ranking businesses. The investigation into the high-ranking applicants comes after allegations that some companies gave ownership shares to non-white individuals who would not have a say in how the business was run in order to game the system.