Maryland lawmakers on Monday approved legislation that expands the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry in a way that gives minority-owned companies a better shot at opening a new cannabis business.
The plan, passed by the Senate Monday and the House of Delegates this weekend, would issue seven new cannabis growing and 13 new cannabis processing licenses. The bill calls for an award process that uses an application that takes race — and the barriers for minorities starting a marijuana firm — into account.
The bill also includes a “compassionate use” fund that would help low income people and veterans pay for the drug, which is not covered by health insurance.
The proposed expansion now goes to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for a signature or veto.
The governor has generally expressed support for expanding the industry, which launched late last year with no African-American owned firms among the 15 picked to grow the drug.
Only 14 of the 20 new licenses will be open to competition.