Maryland MMJ candidate faces federal discrimination suit

(Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to clarify Advanced Alternative Therapies’ license status.)

The owner of a medical marijuana company that’s seeking final approval for a dispensary license in Maryland is under federal investigation for workplace discrimination stemming from a previous business, a situation the state’s embattled medical marijuana commission had no knowledge of.

According to the Capital Gazette, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court alleging that David Podrog – owner of Advanced Alternative Therapies near Baltimore – discriminated against Hispanic employees of an Annapolis car wash under his ownership.

The federal complaint alleges that Podrog and a partner forced Hispanic employees to work as servants at their homes, paid them less than other employees and gave them inferior bathrooms and other work conditions, the Gazette reported.

Podrog’s application won preliminary approval from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission but hasn’t learned whether it will receive final approval.

A spokeswoman for the MMJ commission told the Gazette the panel will review Podrog’s application. However, she said, state rules didn’t require Podrog to reveal that his previous business was under federal investigation if he was the sole owner.

Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch said the issue reflects wider problems with how license winners are selected and criticized the MMJ commission for being inconsistent. The commission has been under fire for failing to issue MMJ licenses to minority groups.

Busch didn’t urge the commission to revoke Podrog’s medical cannabis license but said it has the power to do so.