Maryland’s medical marijuana program could be delayed even further if the courts decide to intervene in a conflict between a cannabis company and the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, Alternative Medicine Maryland petitioned a judge on Monday in hopes of securing an emergency injection over concerns that the commission is about to issue its final licensing selections without so much as trying to diversify the market.
The company wants a court to determine whether the commission broke any laws during the initial licensing phase because regulatory officials admitted last week that they may have went against the grain of the law by not giving any consideration to the race of the applicants.
"Time is of the essence," the petition reads. "It is undisputed that the commission made no attempt to ... actively seek racial and ethnic diversity throughout the licensing process."
Out of the 15 companies awarded initial approval to cultivate medical marijuana for the state, African-Americans, which make up 30 percent of the state’s population, were behind none of them.
But state law requires the commission to “actively seek” a wide range of ethnic backgrounds when approving medical marijuana businesses.
The state’s ethnicity debacle has been the subject of much controversy over the past several months, bringing about some debate in the General Assembly over whether the state should issue more licenses in order to ensure the African-American community has a fighting chance.
But despite the Legislative Black Caucus only pushing for five additional cultivation licenses, the session came to a screeching halt without lawmakers so much as agreeing on one more.
So far, the commission has failed to respond to the proposed injunction.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Maryland back in 2013, but the state has continued to drag its feet getting the program off the ground. If the injunction is approved, the delays will likely continue until legislators can come up with a compromise.
A special session is being considered to resolve the matter.