It’s finally time—time to apply for your grower or processor licenses in Maryland – or at least that is what we all thought until today, when the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) announced a delay in the rollout of the application period. The application period is slated to begin once the MMCC has addressed all questions submitted by prospective applicants. Once open, the application window will close after 60 days. Once the applications have been submitted, the MMCC expects that it will take another 60 days to evaluate the submissions, meaning Stage 1 approvals are likely to be announced this summer

The Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission Reform Act, Chapter 598 of the Acts of 2018, authorizes the MMCC to award up to four (4) new grower licenses and up to 10 new processor licenses as part of the upcoming application period. This increase in licenses puts the new State cap on grower licenses at 22 and the number of processor licenses is now up to 28. In anticipation of this upcoming application period, the MMCC has provided guidance on the grower and processor applications.

The MMCC has put a specific emphasis on diversifying the medical marijuana industry this time around. The MMCC states it worked closely with the Office of the Attorney General, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Office of Minority Business Enterprise, and the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs to develop regulations that formed the basis of the diversity factors in the new application. Out of 100 possible points that an applicant can earn in its quest for a grower or processor license, fifteen (15) of those possible points are earmarked specifically for Diversity & Social and Economic Equity Factors. The Commission hopes that the inclusion of these points will encourage minority participation in the medical cannabis industry. Additionally, the Commission has hosted or sponsored training workshops across the state of Maryland directed to generate interest and participation in the medical cannabis industry by small, minority, and women business owners and entrepreneurs. While the licenses will ultimately be awarded based upon the merits and strengths of the applications submitted, the Commission will be looking favorably at minority applicants.

In order to qualify for the diversity points that the MMCC is offering to applicants (and to further heighten one’s chances of being issued a license in this round), there are two main things to keep in mind: (1) there is no Maryland residency requirement for grower and processor applicants, but there are points to gain if the applicants can demonstrate that owners, employees, and/or contractors live in certain geographic areas within the State. Pursuant to COMAR and COMAR, applicants may gain these points if they live in one of the “Economically Disadvantaged Areas” specified by the Commission and (2) applicants are further given the opportunity to earn up to five (5) points for demonstrating their commitment to diversity, by among factors, having a 51% or greater minority ownership teams. An applicant would need to provide at least one owner/investor who:

  • meets the definition of a “Disadvantaged Equity Applicant” in COMAR (African American, American Indian/Native American, Asian, Hispanic, or Women and has a Personal Net Worth (PNW) that does not exceed $1,713,333), or
  • is a member of the most disadvantaged groups in the medical cannabis industry as identified by the Commission, which means is African American or Native American/American Indian, and has a PNW that does not exceed $1,713,333.

Although the Commission has put a major emphasis on diversifying the medical cannabis industry with the issuing of these additional grower and processor licenses, it is important to note that in order to apply for these licenses one need not classify oneself as a “minority.” The Commission has made it clear that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the allocation of licenses or similar awards based solely on immutable characteristics (such as race, gender, and ethnicity). As such, it is possible for an individual who is not a minority to obtain a grower or processor license in this round of licensing.

For further guidance, and to understand the MMCC’s answers to specific questions submitted in anticipation of this application round, feel free to call Cannabis Law PA at 717-703-0813 or visit