Maryland medical cannabis regulators are set to award preliminary licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries on Nov. 28, to the ire of a Maryland lawmaker challenging the state over a lack of racial diversity in the burgeoning industry.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission will meet in Ellicott City to authorize retail marijuana sales based on applications scored by third-party experts, with the identities of the owners redacted. The meeting, originally set for Monday, was delayed a week.

The agency plans to reveal the identities of the winners Dec. 9.

Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore), chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, objects to the commission authorizing additional business operations after lawmakers implored it to halt the program until the panel deals with what critics are calling the underrepresentation of African Americans in the industry.

None of the companies authorized by the commission in August to grow medical marijuana are led by black executives, despite provisions in state law calling for diverse cultivation companies.

Glenn says the black caucus is scheduled to meet Dec. 7 to decide on legislation addressing medical pot diversity. She says she is leaning toward pushing a bill that would authorize regulators to rescind the licenses they have awarded so far and restart the process, this time taking into account the racial makeup of the ownership teams of prospective growers.

Commission spokeswoman Vanessa Lyon said it was “premature to characterize” the diversity of the industry, noting that businesses with preliminary licenses must pass additional vetting before they are authorized to operate.

“The Commission believes it is in the best interest of sick people to move the pre-approval process forward, however, the Commission is committed to working with the legislature on these complex issues,” said Lyon.

The commission has also been sued over racial diversity by a cannabis firm that did not receive a license and whose ownership is majority African American.

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Full Article: Maryland Medical Pot Regulators Push Back Dispensary Decisions To Nov. 28
Author: Fenit Nirappil
Contact: The Washington Post
Photo Credit: Frederic J. Brown
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