The leaders of the Maryland General Assembly have officially rejected a request from the Legislative Black Caucus to convene a special summer session to debate racial equality in the medical marijuana industry. The caucus has been pressuring lawmakers to reconsider the regulations of the state's nascent MMJ industry ever since the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission failed to grant any of the 15 allotted cannabis licenses to minority business owners.
In lieu of the requested summer session, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch said they would give their “full support for passage of emergency legislation” to expand the MMJ industry when the next legislative session begins in January of 2018. Miller had been open to a special session, but Busch just received a liver transplant, and is still recovering from the surgery at home.
Baltimore Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said that she was “sensitive to the health issues of the speaker,” but was “disappointed and frustrated” that the special session will not take place. “The next step will be to make sure we have the legislation drafted and agreed upon by all the major entities,” she said. The governor, the speaker, the Senate president, and the black caucus will all need to agree on the legislation for it to move forward.
Glenn said she was concerned that the delays in the process would prevent African-American businesses from receiving cannabis licenses until 2019 at the earliest, which would put them at a competitive disadvantage to businesses that have already been granted licenses and are starting up their operations.
“African-Americans will be behind the eight-ball once again,” Glenn said.