Doug Kerr

A third Maryland medical marijuana company has sued the state medical cannabis commission alleging that the commission “was derelict in its legislatively mandated duty to actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic and geographical diversity when licensing medical cannabis growers,” according to Baltimore City Circuit Court filings outlined in a WBFF report. The lawsuit aims to block the final approval of medical marijuana licenses until the licensing process is reviewed.

Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC, a minority-owned company based in Annapolis, contends that the commission “ignored race and ethnicity throughout the licensing process in clear contravention of its authorizing statute.”

The claims echo the sentiments of the state Legislative Black Caucus, who have met with the commission over the lack of minority-led businesses approved for the state’s preliminary cultivation licenses. Maryland Cultivation and Processing and GTI Maryland have also sued the commission over their denials after it was discovered that the commission bumped both companies from their high rankings for others that fit “geographic diversity” requirements in the law. According to the lawsuit, Alternative Medicine has more than $9 million in verified capitalization.

The suit by the company, which is more than 80 percent African-American owned, acknowledges the plight of their counterparts, saying the oversight body “compounded its failure by replacing top ranked applicants with lower ranked applicants in the name of geographic diversity but gave no consideration to the ethnic and racial diversity of its applicants.”

John Pica, the attorney representing Alternative Medicine, says an “easy way” to solve the problem is to add or re-score the existing licenses or increase the number of licenses allowed under the program.

“The legislature made it very clear that that commission was supposed to seek racial diversity in awarding the licenses, and they completely ignored their responsibility,” he said in the report.

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