In anticipation of the Maryland Legislature legalizing adult-use cannabis in the near future, two ex-politicians turned lobbyists formed a new trade organization dedicated to ensuring that people of color get a solid stake in the upcoming industry.

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According to online news outlet Maryland Matters, former state Delegate Michael Arrington, a Democrat, and former state GOP chair John Kane have teamed up to found the Annapolis-based Maryland Minority Cannabis Business Association (MMCBA).

The organization will “serve as the voice for minority businesses to guarantee opportunity, education, and equality for the communities devastated by the war on drugs,” according to a news release.

Arrington said he and Kane want to avoid a repeat of the state’s MMJ licensing in 2015 and 2016, when the vast majority of business license winners were white in a state where a third of the population is Black.

Adult-use measures with a focus on social equity and industry diversity stalled in the Maryland Legislature this year, but the state is considered a strong candidate to legalize recreational sales.

The MMCBA’s advisory board includes:

  • Former Baltimore Mayor Jack Young.
  • Ex-Maryland Special Secretary of Minority Affairs Sharon Pinder.
  • Businesswoman Sophia Jyeh-Shin Parker.
  • Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce co-chair Don Moragne.