Austin Kirk

Maryland MMJ Commission Meets with Legislative Black Caucus over Licensing Process

Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus has met privately with members of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, after meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan last month, to discuss their method for awarding the state’s 15 preliminary medical cannabis cultivation and processing licenses, Fox45-WBFF reports.

The meeting is the latest in the saga of Maryland’s medical cannabis program rollout, which is marred by lawsuits and claims of favoritism.

Much like the lawsuit plaintiffs, members of the Black Caucus are claiming the commission broke their own rules in awarding the lucrative licenses.

“The language was in the law that says that the commission shall actively seek racial, ethnic and geographic diversity,” Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn said in the report. “They didn’t do either.”

In defending the commission’s decision to grant licenses to two companies initially ranked outside of the top 15, Commissioner Buddy Robshaw cited the “geographic diversity” requirement contained in the law. The re-ranking allowed a license to be granted to Holistic Industries, who counts the son-in-law of a powerful Annapolis lobbyist among its equity investors. Holistic also paid the lobbyist, Gerald Evans, $90,000 from November 2015 through April 2016.   

However, when the commission shuffled the rankings, they did not move any minority-owned businesses into the top 15, fueling the claims that the commission failed to meet the racial and ethnic diversity requirements outlined in the law.

“Understanding the fact that you have several lawsuits that have been filed based on your flawed process, and as the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, we’ve gone through two hours where everybody collectively expressed their own outrage at different factors,” Glenn said.

After the meeting, Robshaw said the commission is “committed” to working with the legislature to come up with a solution. The Caucus has asked the licensing process be suspended until the situation is remedied.  

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