Maryland legislators won’t be interrupting their summers to discuss medical marijuana in Annapolis.
That decision was made two weeks ago, actually. A newly released letter dated July 19 (shared by WBAL) from Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch to Baltimore City Del. Cheryl Glenn indicates leaders would rather wait until the 2018 legislative session begins to reconsider a bill reserving additional grower’s licenses for minority and female owners.
Busch and Miller wrote that they were “disappointed” about the outcome of Glenn’s proposal this past spring – it died on the House floor – but offered their “full support for passage of emergency legislation early in the 2018 legislative session.” Their letter implied they wouldn’t call a special session, which Glenn and her colleagues from the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus had requested in April.
Black lawmakers have repeatedly highlighted the lack of diversity in the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s picks for grower and processor licenses for the state’s future medical cannabis industry. None of the 15 licenses for each category went to a minority-owned business.
Their proposals included Glenn’s bill, which would have created seven additional grower licenses – five reserved for minority-owned firms and two for companies that sued the state after they were denied licenses last summer – and another that would have reorganized the commission entirely. The former bill passed both houses of the state legislature, but never received a necessary full House vote after it’d been rewritten with compromises; the latter never got a full vote in either house.
The fallout regarding minority representation in the state’s medical cannabis industry has been straining. One company unsuccessfully sued to stop the commission from awarding full licenses to pre-approved growers, but delayed the process for weeks. The cannabis commission hired a diversity consultant to explore the issue, and Gov. Larry Hogan ordered a disparity study of the burgeoning industry, with results set to come out this fall.
Miller and Busch credited Glenn for spurring Hogan to order the study, and wrote that they hope the results will “inform any appropriate policy steps” needed to pass emergency legislation.
A spokesman for the Black Caucus hasn’t responded to a request for comment on the letter.
As of this morning, the state has nearly 8,500 patients and caregivers fully registered to receive medical cannabis products once they’re available, according to Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission spokeswoman Mary-jo Mather. A combined 10,855 hopeful patients and caregivers had applied for access to the drug.
Mather said the commission’s executive director, Patrick Jameson, declined to comment on Busch and Miller’s letter.
This story has been updated.
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