State’s Top Court Reopens Briefly Halted Marijuana-Grower Licensing Process

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Marijuana-grower licensing can resume in Maryland after a two-week delay.

The state’s highest court today declined to extend a restraining order that temporarily froze the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from granting full grower’s licenses. A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge had granted the temporary injunction last month requested by a majority black-owned prospective grower that didn’t receive a preliminary license, and sought to block the state from handing out Stage Two licenses to anyone else.

That firm, Alternative Medicine Maryland, alleged the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission ignored a legal requirement to consider diversity when choosing pre-licensed growers last year. None of the 15 companies picked by the commission are minority-owned.

The commission had already granted its first full license to Anne Arundel County-based ForwardGro before the restraining order took effect. Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams allowed that company to keep on growing, but effectively ruled that the commission couldn’t hand out any other licenses while the case was still being argued. His restraining order notably expired last weekend, though the company had asked the appeals court to extend it.

The Maryland Court of Appeals took up the case from the circuit court last Friday after multiple pre-licensed growers appealed the restraining order.

The lawsuit filed by Alternative Medicine Maryland is still ongoing. The appeals court scheduled oral arguments for July 27. Companies the case have until July 7 to file briefs, according to today’s motion.

Patrick Jameson, executive director of the cannabis commission, wrote in an email that the commission is evaluating the court’s order and declined to comment further.

A trade group representing 13 of the 15 pre-licensed growers applauded the move re-opening the licensing process.

“We are gratified by the Court’s swift disposition of the restraining order, thus allowing this critically-important public health program to proceed,” Alan Rifkin, a lawyer representing the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said in a statement.

Multiple attorneys representing Alternative Medicine Maryland weren’t immediately available to comment on the case Friday afternoon.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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