Maryland’s House of Delegates have passed legislation that would allow five additional medical cannabis cultivation licenses after a study is conducted as to whether minorities had undergone discrimination in related industries, the Baltimore Sun reports. The study could yield legal justification for awarding the additional licenses to minority applicants.
The reform, which passed the House by a veto-proof 90-45 vote, was headed by the Legislative Black Caucus, who has been fighting for equity in the medical cannabis licensing – which is required under the state’s law – after none of the 15 companies initially awarded a preliminary cultivation license in August 2016 were minority-led.
The measure was opposed by both the companies that were selected for the preliminary licenses and most House Republicans.
Del. Cheryl Glenn, sponsor of the bill and chair of the caucus, said the bill’s passage shows that minorities will not be locked out of participation in the industry.
“Less than 1 percent of the licenses held in the entire country are held by African Americans and other minorities,” Glenn said in an Associated Press report. “I’m very proud at the state of Maryland that we are passing this legislation. Nothing is perfect, but this is really moving us along the path of having a fair system in the state of Maryland.”
Three minority-led companies that were denied preliminary licenses have pending lawsuits against the state’s medical cannabis commission, asserting that they failed to follow the letter of the law which requires regulators to “actively seek and achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in the industry.
The measure must still be passed by the Senate before being sent to the governor.