Maryland rejects special session to boost medical cannabis diversity

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Presiding lawmakers in Maryland’s General Assembly have rejected a request from black lawmakers to hold a special legislative session that would have tried to address allegations that African-Americans and other minorities are not fairly represented in the state’s new medical marijuana industry.

Instead, Senate President Thomas Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch said they would support “emergency legislation” to expand the marijuana industry when lawmakers reconvene for their annual legislative session in early 2018, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Miller had floated the idea of a special session earlier this year, but that idea died when Busch had to undergo a liver transplant from which he is still recovering.

Cheryl Glenn, leader of Maryland’s legislative black caucus, said she’s “disappointed and frustrated” about the decision but is ready to work on and quickly pass legislation that would make more marijuana business licenses available to minorities, the newspaper reported.

But even under a best-case scenario, African-Americans may not have an opportunity to win licenses until 2019, Glenn said.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is in the process of issuing final licenses to growers, processors and dispensaries and expects medical marijuana to be available to patients this fall.