Maryland’s medical marijuana industry is coming under scrutiny as most of the 30 companies “awarded preliminary licenses to grow or process marijuana are led by white men.” With over 800 applications awaiting approval for 94 dispensary licenses, the need to include diverse ownership is at an all time high (no pun intended…or maybe it was….).
Although it is currently illegal to take race into consideration when awarding licenses, Commission Chairman Paul Davies has stated that he and executive director Patrick Jameson will discuss “legal ways to assure racial diversity among those winners.” The Black Caucus is also involving itself, to make sure minorities are represented in the process. According to the Baltimore Sun article, “applications — with companies’ identifying information removed — [are] reviewed and ranked by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute before being sent to the commission. Commissioners then [review] and [vote] on the applications, still with companies’ identifying information redacted.” The process may sound fair, but with the medical marijuana industry still being implemented, this ultimately ensures facilities with larger financial backing gain a head start on other smaller operations.
Time will tell how the state will create opportunities for both small and large marijuana dispensaries, but for now, applicants can only sit, wait, and hope for the best.