Another company that was denied a license to grow Maryland medical marijuana has filed a lawsuit against state cannabis regulators, this time alleging that they didn’t follow a law calling for racial diversity in the potentially lucrative industry.
The suit filed Monday by Alternative Medicine Maryland asks a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge to halt the burgeoning medical marijuana program until the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission takes action to ensure racial and ethnic diversity among licensed growers.
Although the state’s medical marijuana legalization law calls for regulators to “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in awarding growing licenses, the commission did not consider the race of applicants.
The agency cited a letter from the attorney general’s office that suggested that taking race into account would be unconstitutional. But the attorney general’s office has since said regulators could have commissioned a racial disparity study in similar industries to justify allowing racial preferences.
None of the 15 companies that in August were given preliminary approval to grow medical marijuana are led by African Americans. The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland plans to introduce emergency legislation to address the issue, possibly by restarting the application process or authorizing additional licenses to minority-owned companies.