Medical cannabis was legalized in Maryland in April 2014, but recent legal challenges have
caused the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to threaten to postpone
the implementation of the medical marijuana program for the state. The
Commission is battling legal challenges after geographic and racial diversity
decisions caused certain marijuana cultivators to be dropped from the
list of pre-approved growers. Maryland’s process to pre-approve
growers and begin issuing licenses has been stalled indefinitely while
the Commission handles legal battles with the dropped growers.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is currently handling a lawsuit
with Green Thumb Industries and Maryland Cultivation and Processing. These
two growers were removed from the list of pre-approved growers who were
on track to be licensed by the state to cultivate medical marijuana. The
companies are seeking a court ruling to award them license pre approvals
once more. Before the court will address the companies’ complaints,
it will first how the Commission and the Attorney General has blocked
the companies from gaining information regarding the denial of their licenses.
The Plaintiffs, Green Thumb Industries and Maryland Cultivation and Processing,
are protesting the Attorney General’s objections to the deposition
testimony of the only member who voted against removing the companies
from the preapproval list. If the court decides that the deliberative
process does not apply in this instance, the public stands to gain access
to a highly contested internal decision. The lawsuit is only one of the
challenges the Commission is facing for the decisions.
The Commission has also been criticized by lawmakers for its pre-approval
evaluation process. The original process failed to take diversity into
account when selecting the limited number of pre-approved applicants.
The Commission continues to defend its process, and maintains that the
process is impartial and that the attorney general’s office had
advised that state official must demonstrate a racial disparity in the
industry before racial preference could be used in licensing. The Commission
announced that they intend to employ a diversity consultant to advise
them on a diversity study. Meanwhile, Maryland lawmakers are considering
legislative approaches to the diversity issue in the medical cannabis industry.
A proposed measure, Senate Bill 0800, would allow another chance for growers
who have been denied a license, by adding 5 more licenses and requiting
the Commission to review applications that had been submitted on time,
complete, and with all the necessary fees, but were not selected for the
original list. This bill may give growers like Green Thumb Industries
and Maryland Cultivation and Processing another chance at being preapproved
for a license.
Another bill, Senate Bill 0999, seeks to dismantle the Maryland Medical
Marijuana Commission and transfer the responsibility for the program to
the Maryland Department of Health, similar to the system that is already
in place in Pennsylvania. The Commission has denounced the bill as being
a threat to the quality of the medical marijuana program. Other bills,
such as House Bill 0487 and cross-filed Senate Bill 0276 are hoping that
the Commission can be compelled to use new membership requirements that
reflect the racial diversity of Maryland.
The legislative actions and lawsuits are slowing the process of licensing
dispensaries and beginning to serve patients. Until these issues have
been settled, it is possible that the program may be delayed indefinitely
past the Commission’s timeline. The program was originally planned
to be operational by the summer of 2017.
Sacks Weston Diamond LLC, our Pennsylvania medical marijuana attorneys are proud advocates for
the legalization of medical cannabis in all states. We are here to help
protect patients as well as companies in the medical marijuana industry.
Contact our firm today to request a