ANNAPOLIS — Medical marijuana in Maryland took a step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday, April 4 after the House of Delegates approved a measure that would allow five more licenses for a business to grow the plant.
Del. Cheryl Glenn of Baltimore, who sponsored the legislation, was a bit emotional after it passed 90-45 regarding changes within the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, named after Glenn’s late mother.
“To see my mom’s name on the board and remembering all of her pain and suffering that might have been alleviated if she been able to have medical marijuana,” she said. “I’m very hopeful we will not have any unnecessary delays.”
The legislation, which must also be approved by the Senate, currently sits in the Finance Committee alongside a bill from Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. (D-District 27) of Clinton. His legislation decreases the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from 16 to 14 members, 11 of which would be appointed by the governor.
Glenn’s bill for the commission, named after her late mother, was amended to have a nine-member group, with six appointed by the governor.
Miller, who represents a portion of Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert counties, recommends members of the Senate and House “may not be an owner or employee of any business entity that holds a medical cannabis” grower, dispensary or processor license.
Miller also proposes two companies — Green Thumb Industries of Chicago and Maryland Cultivation and Processing — receive a license.
Both companies sued the commission because they achieved a higher score in the top 15 applicants awarded last year. However, they were bumped for two lower-scoring candidates to ensure certain geographic areas got represented.
Glenn’s bill includes a disparity study so minority- and women-owned businesses participate in the process. It would also allow
Both bills do stress medical cannabis would help people who suffer from health disparities such as severe nausea, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms.
Miller said the plan will be to work off Glenn’s bill by the session’s last day Monday, April 10.
“Our two staffs are working closely together,” he said. “I’m fairly certain we will work off Delegate Glenn’s bill and come to a consensus. We will get it done.”
During a debate in the House on Monday, April 3, some delegates such as Brett Wilson, a Republican from Hagerstown in Washington County, challenged the bill’s provision for felons with drug-related convictions to participate in the medical marijuana business.
“They could be handling the drugs that treat your children,” he said.
Glenn called the comments “insensitive.”
“Now that we have a legal industry and to see those people who have been disproportionately impacted and not participate is wrong,” she said. “If you were a teenager and got caught with a nickel bag of marijuana, then you are [now] 35 years old and trying to be an entrepreneur, you should have that opportunity to do so.”
Del. Robert Grammer Jr. of Baltimore County presented an amendment to not allow those on the Maryland Medical Assistance program, or Medicaid, to receive access to the cannabis.
It was immediately rejected.
“I don’t think they really understand this,” said Del. Diana Fennel (D-District 47A) of Colmar Manor), who supports medical marijuana in the state. “I’m going to continue and stand by Cheryl Glenn because this is very important. It can help people from suffering.”