Maryland Medical Marijuana Panel to hire Diversity Consultant

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on November 30, 2016.

The Maryland Cannabis Commission announced Monday it will hire a diversity consultant in order to take steps toward evaluating minority participation in the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry.

The announcement follows the filing of a lawsuit alleging the commission improperly ignored race when evaluating applicants for licenses, and calls by African-American lawmakers to stop the licensing process until the alleged racial discrepancies can be sorted out.

Meanwhile, the commission gave preliminary license approval to 102 dispensaries to open medical marijuana dispensaries across the state and near marijuana growing sites. However, it will release the names of the dispensaries given preliminary approval on Dec. 9.

Critics point to the lack of minority-owned businesses among those named as finalists to grow and process medical marijuana.

"The commission is in the process and plans to hire an expert consultant who specializes in minority business affairs to do a disparity evaluation and provide future guidance on minority business enterprise initiatives and make recommendations to the commission," said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

The Maryland state attorney general cautioned against providing extra weight to minority applicants, suggesting preferences would be unconstitutional without a history of racial disparity to justify the move.

The commission expects to award final licenses to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana in time for the entire program to be up and running this summer.

However, it is still unclear whether the consultant would study Maryland's industry as it stands now, the medical marijuana industry in other states, or review data from other industries that could shed light on conditions for minorities trying to get into the medical marijuana business in Maryland.

comments powered by Disqus