Maryland Judge Ronald B. Rubin recently placed a temporary hold on all medical cannabis licensing to address claims that the licensing application process unfairly excluded some businesses. The complaint was filed by Remileaf, a company that had its application for cultivation and processing rescinded by the commission due to a missed deadline.
The problem stems from applicants experiencing issues while attempting to submit their cannabis applications using the online portal. Remileaf was fortunate to submit their online application successfully, however, due to these technical difficulties the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission was forced to extend the deadline for all applicants.
When the deadline was extended, Remileaf’s online application was essentially thrown out and they were required to resubmit their application. As soon as they were made of aware of their application status they sent a representative down to the MMCC office in person to ensure a physical copy of the application was filed before the deadline. Upon arrival at the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission office, the representative was turned away with no explanation.
After hearing how these events transpired, Judge Rubin placed a restraining order on all cannabis licensing until October 7th, so Remileaf’s argument could be fully heard. While this is the primary reason for putting licensing on hold, there are additional complaints from the Legislative Black Caucus.
The Legislative Black Caucus is concerned that a number of minority owned cannabis businesses were overlooked during the first round of licensing. This very issue was addressed in legislation that was passed 2018 mandating a higher percentage of inclusion for minorities and women. They also claim that several out-of-state investors are backing minorities in hopes to improve their chances of being licensed.
While there is little evidence to support this claim, a temporary pause on cannabis licensing will allow them time to investigate the matter further. One of the first supporters of medical marijuana legalization, Delegate Cheryl Glenn pointed out that, “Maryland state residency means something" in reference to the state’s regulations. As a member of the assembly, she explained that the intent was not to “expand the footprint to hedge fund companies” from out-of-state.
Cannabis business applicants should have some sort of resolution in the coming days, once Judge Rubin makes his final determination on how to proceed. He understands the importance of getting the process right, especially considering the growth potential of Maryland’s medical marijuana industry. According to a report by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, medical marijuana dispensaries brought in over $96 million in gross revenue as of November 30th, 2018.