The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission experienced a serious shake-up last week, as Governor Larry Hogan replaced the majority of the commission's members after the trouble-plagued launch of the state's medical cannabis program. The governor appointed ten new members to the 16-member panel, filling three vacancies and replacing six members whose terms had expired. “It was time to move in a new direction,” said Doug Mayer, spokesperson for the governor.
Hogan added two more minority members to the agency, increasing the total number of minority commissioners to four. The commission will now have two African American members, one Hispanic member, and one member of Middle Eastern descent, according to Mayer. New appointees to the commission include a toxicologist, a pharmacist, a county state's attorney, and a county sheriff.
The state's medical marijuana program has suffered constant delays and accusations of misconduct and failures to consider racial diversity. None of the MMJ licenses that the commission granted were offered to minority business owners, leading the state Legislative Black Caucus to propose a bill that would have completely overhauled the cannabis commission. The bill did not pass, but state Del. Cheryl Glenn, president of the LBC, requested a study on the racial disparity in the MMJ program back in April.
Glenn said that the caucus “appreciates any and all efforts” to add minority voices to the commission, and said that Hogan should ensure that the racial diversity study will be completed as soon as possible. The LBC is also arguing for a special session of the General Assembly in order to discuss and pass their medical cannabis reform bill.