Maryland Lawmakers Reach Deal On Medical Marijuana Licenses, Making More Minority Owners Likely

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The Maryland House and Senate have reached an agreement on the thorny issue of expanding the infant medical marijuana industry to give minorities an ownership role, the lead Senate negotiator said Saturday.

Sources in the House of Delegates confirmed the accord.

“It’s great, great,” said Del. Cheryl Glenn, the Baltimore Democrat who has led the fight for a greater role for African-Americans and other minorities who were left out in the first round of grower’s license awards.

Sen. Brian Feldman, the lead Senate negotiator in the talks to reconcile the differing bills, said the compromise calls for the state’s medical cannabis commission to devise the selection rules based on a study of the hardships minorities have faced getting into similar industries in the past.

The Montgomery County Democrat said the conference committee rejected the more prescriptive language in the House bill because of a concern it could be challenged in the courts.

“We went as far as we could go within constitutional bounds,” he said.

The deal must still be ratified by both houses of the General Assembly on Monday, the last day of the 90-day session. It would then go to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.

Minority-controlled firms lost out in the first round of bidding for medical marijuana licenses in Maryland. The legislature’s attempt to give them a slice of the pie ended in failure on the last night of the session last year as House-Senate negotiations dragged into the final night.

This year’s agreement suggests that the issue won’t be a sticking point on the final day this year.