Maryland Cannabis Commission to Hire Diversity Consultant

Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission is taking steps toward evaluating minority participation in the state’s nascent cannabis industry, the panel’s executive director said Monday. The Commission plans on hiring a consultant to determine the feasibility of conducting a study to determine whether minorities have been unfairly excluded from the industry as a whole — a key step to legally awarding medical cannabis licenses based on racial criteria.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

The announcement follows calls from African-American lawmakers in the General Assembly to halt the licensing process entirely because nearly all firms that have won preliminary licenses so far are owned by white men. It also comes after a lawsuit alleged the commission improperly ignored race when evaluating applicants. A state law required the commission to “actively seek to achieve” racial diversity.

The commission has said it followed the advice of the Maryland Attorney General when it did not include race-based selection criteria in applications since it is unconstitutional to do so without a disparity study.

Patrick Jameson, the commission’s executive director, said Monday the consultant will review “the whole big picture” of diversity in medical marijuana, though it was not immediately clear what specific steps the consultant would take.

Jameson said the commission has already seen “significant minority participation” among the employees, directors and investors of companies awarded 15 preliminary licenses to grow and 15 preliminary licenses to process marijuana.

He said the commission is “highly encouraging” these businesses to recruit minorities as investors and employees when practical.

Meanwhile, the commission gave preliminary approval for 102 dispensaries. They were chosen in a blind review designed to avoid favoritism, and their names will be made public Dec. 9. Each of Maryland’s 47 state Senate districts can have up to two dispensaries and the 15 marijuana growers also could apply to open a dispensary, for a total of up to 109. Of the finalists approved Monday, two Senate districts had only one dispensary, while the others each had two. Five growers did not apply for licenses.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Medical Cannabis

Coverage from The Baltimore Sun

Learn more about medical cannabis issues and the potential workplace challenges it poses during the Cannabis in the Workplace: Clearing the Haze panel at the 2016 MACo Winter Conference.

Here are more details:

Title: Cannabis in the Workplace: Clearing the Haze

Description: After years of working to establish drug-free workplaces, employers now face the possibility of legal drug users within their organizations. As long as it remains illegal under federal law, many employers remain committed to their drug-free policies and intend to continue testing applicants and employees for cannabis. Other employers may decide to modify their current policies based on changes in state law. With the numerous legal and policy considerations swirling around medical cannabis, employers and workers alike are seeking clarification. In this session, representatives from the public and private sectors will discuss the many liability and logistical issues due to the changing landscape of state medical cannabis laws, including the potential for accommodation requests and wrongful termination claims. Attend this session to hear more about what to expect in the near future and the best practices to protect your workplace and employees.

Speakers:

  • Shad Ewart, Professor, Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Marijuana Legalization Anne Arundel Community College
  • William C. Tilburg, Deputy Director, Legal Resource Center for Public Policy, University of Maryland
  • Dr. Stephen Fisher, Medical Advisor to the CEO, Director of Health Services, Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company

Moderator: The Honorable William Valentine, Commissioner, Allegany County

Date/Time: Thursday, December 8, 2016; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: