The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is launching two investigations – one into the cannabis licensing review process and another checking the veracity of information included in applications by high-ranking businesses, the Baltimore Sun reports. The agency is hiring private firms to conduct the investigations in an effort for them to remain independent.
The announcement comes nearly a month after a Montgomery County judge issued a temporary restraining order against the commission forcing the state to stop processing a batch of new cultivation and processing licenses. The license expansion is required under a 2018 law, which was passed to address the lack of minority groups awarded licenses during the initial phase. The lawsuit against the commission was brought by Remileaf who claimed the commission’s application process prevented the company from getting their application in on time.
More than 200 applications were submitted for the 14 licenses, according to the Sun report.
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.
Del. Darryl Barnes, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said, if true, those individuals were used “as pawns or tokens or figureheads” for the company to score more points on their application.
William Tilburg, the commission’s acting executive director, told the Sun the reviews will take at least 45 days.