Leaders of the Democrat-controlled Legislature say they do not support convening a special session to reopen discussions of racial inequity in Maryland’s developing medical cannabis industry.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller have pledged their “full support for passage of emergency legislation” to expand the marijuana industry once the legislature reconvenes in January 2018. Busch, 70, is at home recovering from a liver transplant.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission issued 15 licenses to growers in 2016, but none were awarded to firms owned by African-Americans. The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus previously called on the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to issue more licenses through a special session.
In June, 10 of the 16 cannabis regulators, criticized by Glenn and other lawmakers, were replaced.
Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn said she was “sensitive to the health issues of the speaker,” but “disappointed and frustrated” that the special session was rejected and is ready to move forward, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The delays in the process are concerning and minority businesses may not be issued their medical cannabis licenses until 2019, which would put those businesses at a competitive disadvantage to the businesses that received their licenses early on, Glenn said.
“African-Americans will be behind the eight-ball once again,” she said.
The next legislative session will convene in Annapolis, Maryland on January 10, 2018.