Maryland Medical Marijuana Regulators Sued for not Considering Racial Diversity of License Winners

Article by Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun

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A third losing applicant for a coveted medical marijuana license has sued the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, this one arguing the regulators illegally ignored racial diversity when selecting applicants.

A lawsuit filed Monday by Alternative Medicine Maryland in Baltimore Circuit Court asks a judge to prevent the issuance of any final licenses and start the process anew. The company, led by New York-based doctor Greg Daniels, also alleges regulators unconstitutionally favored in-state companies and failed to make sure winning bidders would have the money to execute their plans.

The lawsuit is the second to challenge the way the commission picked 15 companies in August to grow the drug. Two other companies joined to sue regulators for excluding their high-ranked applications and elevating two lower-ranked competitors in an effort to enhance geographic diversity.

Elected officials are concerned. Members of the Legislative Black Caucus have pledged to prevent the preliminary winners from getting final licenses unless more minorities are included. Gov. Larry Hogan has promised to do what he can to help, but he has stopped short of calling for a halt to the process.

Already, Maryland’s medical marijuana program — first authorized in 2014 — is one of the slowest in the country to launch. The cannabis commission is required to issue licenses by the summer of 2018. Unless stopped by a judge or a new law, commissioners are expected to issue final licenses early next year.

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