Maryland probes possible ethics violations in MMJ licensing process

Maryland regulators are investigating potential conflicts of interest that occurred during the state’s application process for medical marijuana cultivation, extraction and dispensary licenses, The Washington Post reported.

In fact, some independent reviewers hired to examine medical cannabis applications had ties to businesses bidding for MMJ licenses, according to the Post.

It’s the latest setback for a medical cannabis program that has been slowed by lawsuits alleging cultivation application reviewers didn’t follow selection rules as well as criticism that regulators failed to include a sufficient number of minority-owned businesses.

Now, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) is investigating connections between MMJ license applicants and application reviewers hired by the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University, the newspaper reported.

Advocates told the newspaper the marijuana industry’s small size makes it difficult “to find people who have expertise in marijuana businesses but no connections to companies trying to expand into Maryland.”

The Maryland commission hired the Towson institute to oversee 20 industry experts to review MMJ applications, according to the Post.

Another issue between the MMCC and university came to light in May, when it was disclosed that the MMJ commission hadn’t fully paid Towson’s Regional Economic Studies Institute for its reviewer services.