Photo captured inside of the Maryland General Assembly state legislature.

Roxanne Reedy

Maryland Legislature Passes MMJ Expansion Bill to Address Lack of Minority-Owned Firms

Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates passed a bill over the weekend to issue seven additional medical cannabis cultivation and 13 processing licenses, the Baltimore Sun reports. The bill includes language which would force regulators to consider race and barriers for minorities, including women, with the issuance of those licenses.

The bill’s passage addresses the state’s medical cannabis business diversity issues that were brought to the forefront by Del. Cheryl D. Glenn and led to lawsuits against the state by rejected applicants. Glenn was the sponsor of the legislation, which includes a directive to the Medical Cannabis Commission to conduct “comprehensive outreach” to hopeful small, minority and female business owners through partnerships with minority-focused trade groups, and historically black colleges and universities.

At least one of the lawsuit plaintiffs, GTI Maryland, told the Sun that the company would dismiss its suit. The legislation grants GTI one of the cultivation licenses. Of the 20 new licenses, 14 will be open to competition. The remaining are set aside for companies to promote integration in the space.

The measure also includes the creation of a “compassionate use fund”: The fund would help low-income people and veterans pay for medical cannabis products.

The bill still needs to be signed by Gov. Larry Hogan.

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