Front steps of the Maryland capitol building in Annapolis.

Ken Lund

Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Licensing War Wages On

Maryland Del. Cheryl D. Glenn said the state’s Medical Cannabis Commission has “no oversight” and “no diversity” claiming that the commission was “never set up to do what they are charged to do now,” during a panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

However, Michael Bronfein, chief executive of Curio Wellness — one of the 15 companies approved for preliminary cannabis licenses by the commission — said the 2014 law is one of the best in the country and the market should decide how many companies need to be licensed to meet the needs of patients in the state.

“We have a process and we ought to let it play out for a year or two,” Bronfein said in the Baltimore Sun report. “We don’t know that we need 15. Ten may be enough.”

The process used by the commission chose 15 companies ranked by Townson University for the licenses using a double-blind method. Yet, it has been wrought with delays and scandal for months. The Legislative Black Caucus, which Glenn chairs, first voiced their concerns over the lack of minority-approved businesses in August, announcing plans to introduce legislation to address the issue the following month.  Later in September, two companies initially ranked in the top 15 by Towson who were denied licenses after commissioners reshuffled the order due to “geographic diversity” requirements in the law, sued the MCC. And this month, it was reported that one of the companies who replaced the now-plaintiffs has family ties to Annapolis lobbyist Gerard Evans; later that month, the only commissioner who disapproved of the reordering of applicants was not reappointed to her post.

All the while, patients are getting no closer to having access to medicine.

Sen. Jamie Raskin, who sponsored the law, said he didn’t understand how the commission determined it was ok to reshuffle the list for geographic diversity, but not consider the racial diversity — which he said was written in the same sentence.

“It would not make sense to overthrow racial diversity for geographic diversity,” he said.

And there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. While the commission did meet with the Black Caucus early this month, no changes have come from that meeting; lawsuits are still pending and the nascent industry just cannot move forward.

“We need to revisit what we did in the legislation,” Glenn said. “We are not going to do this in such a jacked-up way.”

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