Black lawmakers in Maryland on Wednesday called for a special session of the state legislature, after a bill designed to create diversity ownership in the state’s developing medical marijuana industry failed to pass in the regular session’s chaotic closing minutes this week.
Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, described the last minutes of the legislative session Monday night as “a well-orchestrated plan to defeat the bill.” She said the black caucus, which includes 50 of the General Assembly’s 188 members, supports the legislation.
“I am heartbroken, and I’m angry and that is not going to be resolved unless we have a special session and unless we right this wrong,” Glenn said at a news conference with attorneys and caucus members.
Together, Glenn said, the caucus will show their displeasure in next year’s session — an election year — if nothing is done.
“We’re talking about generations of African Americans who have been disproportionately impacted by the marijuana laws in this country, and now that we have medical marijuana legal in the state of Maryland, what the legislature is saying to us, what the leadership is saying to us is that African Americans will not be allowed to have licenses,” Glenn said. “No, that is not acceptable.”
The measure that died on the House floor midnight Monday would have allowed seven more licenses to grow marijuana in the state, in addition to 15 now allowed by law. Two of the new licenses would have gone to two companies that are now suing the state, because they were bumped out of the top 15 companies named as finalists after a state commission abruptly said it needed to increase geographic diversity. The bill also would have allowed five more licenses to create diversity ownership, after