Maryland to issue more medical marijuana business licenses

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Maryland lawmakers agreed to expand the state’s medical marijuana industry, in large part to resolve a conflict over minority representation in the business.

Under the terms of a deal passed Monday by both chambers in the state legislature, Maryland regulators will award another 20 business permits – seven for cultivation and 13 for processing, the Baltimore Sun reported.

A new process for choosing license recipients will focus on both race and barriers to entry for minorities as it chooses permit winners.

But only 14 of the 20 new permits are even “open to competition,” the Sun reported.

The other six are already spoken for, with four devoted to “the integration of grower-processor operations” and two to settle a lawsuit filed by a pair of companies that sued the state last year over flaws in the permitting process.

One of those two companies, Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries (GTI), filed suit last September, arguing that it was wrongly denied a cultivation permit in favor of a lower-scoring competitor.

But because it’s now being granted a license, GTI is dropping the lawsuit, according to the Sun.