Minorities in the state of Maryland are at a disadvantage in the state’s medical cannabis licensing process, according to the report of a state consultant hired to review a 2017 disparity study after controversy arose over the fact that no minority-owned businesses were awarded a medical cannabis license.
Under state law, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is required to seek racial diversity in its medical cannabis licensing process.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the consultant’s findings, which were announced on Jan. 17, 2018, are critical to allowing state officials to consider race in medical cannabis licensing applications.
In order to accurately assess the disparity, the consultant, Jon Wainwright, a managing director at NERA Economic Consulting, used the methodology from the 2017 disparity study his firm conducted and applied the findings to industries connected to the medical cannabis industry.
“Disparities continue to exist in both public and private contracting in the same geographic and industry markets in which medical cannabis licensees and independent testing laboratories are likely to operate,” Wainwright wrote in a letter to the state of Maryland. “It is imperative that any race- or gender-conscious mechanisms applied to the medical cannabis business be carefully established and consistent with the law.”
Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, the chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, praised the Wainwright’s findings and said that the results will help protect legislation passed by the General Assembly from court challenges.
“I’m ecstatic Maryland can move forward and be a beacon of light and show it is a serious issue, that everyone should be concerned about having diversity in a multibillion-dollar industry,” Glenn said, as quoted by the Baltimore Sun.