In an effort to increase racial diversity in the state’s medical cannabis industry, the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus has announced plans to introduce a bill during the next legislative session that would award additional medical cannabis licenses to businesses owned by African-Americans, according to a report by The Star Democrat.
Although African-Americans make up approximately one-third of Maryland’s population, only 17% of medical cannabis license holders are African-American.
To address the apparent lack of racial diversity, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the launch of a disparity study, which is due in December, but members of the Legislative Black Caucus want to take things a step further.
Under a measure proposed by the caucus, the state would award five new cultivation licenses and five new processing licenses. Although the licenses will not be explicitly designated for companies owned by African-Americans, companies owned by African-Americans will receive a weighted preference in the application process.
The proposed measure would also establish a fund, paid for through licensing fees, to help ensure that the price of medical cannabis stays low.
Speaking with The Star Democrat, Del. Cheryl Glenn, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said that she expects the measure to gain initial approval by both the House and the Senate when the legislature reconvenes on Jan. 10, 2018.
“Next year is election year … so timing is everything … I am very, very sure that this is going to be taken care of,” Glenn said.