Medical Marijuana Firm Seeks Emergency Ruling to Halt Maryland Industry

A medical marijuana company filed an emergency motion Monday asking a judge to forbid the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from issuing any final licenses to grow the drug.

Alternative Medicine Maryland asked Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams to issue a temporary injunction against the commission, arguing the entire licensing process should be stopped because the commission appears poised to grant final licenses.

The request for an emergency halt to the process comes as the marijuana commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the progress of 15 companies that did win initial approval to grow marijuana — a meeting that is among the final steps in the process to begin legal cultivation of medical marijuana.

“Time is of the essence,” Alternative Medicine Maryland’s lawyers wrote to Judge Williams. “It is undisputed that the commission made no attempt to … actively seek racial and ethnic diversity throughout the licensing process.”

The state law legalizing medical marijuana required the commission to “actively seek” racial diversity among approved growers and distributors. Alternative Medicine Maryland, which is led by an African-American and did not receive a preliminary license, filed a lawsuit last year alleging the commission broke the law by failing to use a race-conscious application process.

The commission’s failure to consider race when picking the winning companies also sparked a prolonged fight in the Maryland General Assembly over whether to expand the industry. The Legislative Black Caucus pushed for at least five more marijuana growing licenses to be issued, in order to make sure minority-owned firms had a fair shot a potentially lucrative industry. The issue was not resolved before the annual legislative session adjourned last month.

The governor and legislative leaders also are considering whether to recall lawmakers to Annapolis for a special legislative session to consider how to increase diversity among medical marijuana growers.

The state legalized medical marijuana in 2013, but it has taken more than four years for the program to launch.

The Baltimore Sun