Maryland cannabis regulators have chosen Morgan State University to assess more than 200 applications from hopeful cannabis growers and processors vying for 14 new licenses in the state’s regulated market.
A panel of experts, led by the university’s assistant vice president for research innovation and advocacy, Timothy Akers, will be entrusted with scoring and ranking 104 processor applications and 109 grower applications, according to an announcement today from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
The panel will score them based on various elements, including management, business operations, human resources, security, occupational safety, commercial horticulture and agriculture operations, commercial lab operations, pharmaceutical manufacturing operations and communications.
Akers said in a statement that the historically black Northeast Baltimore school is “honored to be working with MMCC and the people of Maryland in helping to further the Cannabis enterprise for the State.”
“Our team will endeavor to provide the highest quality assessments and evaluations of each and every application.”
The panel will help to pick the winners for four new grower and 10 new processor licenses, created in a 2018 law aimed at bringing more equity to the most profitable tiers of Maryland’s medical cannabis economy.
African-American lawmakers and allies spearheaded the effort after the first round of applications led to no licenses being awarded to black-owned growing and processing enterprises in a state where blacks have overwhelmingly suffered from policing of the plant that’s now being liberalized. The initial round awarded 15 licenses apiece for growers and processors.
Pressed by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered a disparity study that wound up confirming minorities, as well as women, had been shut out of the industry.
The study cleared the way for the law passed in 2018, which adjusted the application process to give more consideration to racial and ethnic minorities and women who apply, a step intended to boost diversity in the next round of picks. The legislation also created several new licenses for existing growers to become processors, and existing processors to become growers.
MMCC Executive Director Joy Strand today said the state currently has 17 licensed processors—one is still awaiting full approval—and 16 licensed cultivators, with two more awaiting full approval.
Now the state plans to add 14 more.
Morgan State’s panel will be evaluating applications through Aug. 26. Regulators will then review the scores in September, and plan to announce the awardees on Sept. 26, per the MMCC’s website.
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