Legislation would give MMJ operators edge in Maryland’s rec cannabis market

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Maryland lawmakers introduced adult-use cannabis legislation that would give medical marijuana operators in the state an advantage while also aiming to create equitable opportunities in the industry.

According to The Washington Post, lawmakers are racing to hammer out adult-use regulations before July 1 in hopes of curbing illicit sales seen in the lead-up to adult-use sales in other states such as New York.

Under the constitutional amendment that Maryland voters passed in November, adults can legally use and possess cannabis as of July 1.

Senate Bill 516, filed Friday, stipulates:

  • Medical cannabis licensees who were operational before October 2022 could convert to recreational licenses for a one-time fee of $100,000 to $2.5 million based on their 2022 gross revenue.
  • A total of 75 cultivation licenses, 100 processor licenses, 300 dispensary licenses and 15 on-site consumption licenses would be allowed in the first phase of the program.
  • Social equity licensees – individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition or who meet other criteria outlined by the Maryland Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Commission – would be given priority in the first application round.
  • A new Office of Social Equity would oversee a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund and another grant program to assist social equity licensees with capital and operational costs.

Delegates will discuss the bill at a Feb. 17 hearing.

Delegate Gabriel Acevero, a Democrat, told the Post that people with marijuana-related criminal records would also be able to participate in the adult-use market.

And cannabis multistate operators licensed in the state are also intently watching the progress of Maryland’s recreational market.

MSOs Green Thumb Industries, TerrAscend and Trulieve Cannabis are on the list of current licensees in Maryland’s medical cannabis program.

And New York-based MSO Ascend Wellness said in January it planned to enter Maryland’s MMJ market by acquiring Devi Holdings in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $19 million.