Regulators Had Preapproved 15 Companies, None Led By African Americans, And Have Given Them Until August To Pass Final Inspections And Background Checks.

By Fenit Nirappil By Fenit Nirappil May 25 Follow @FenitN Maryland’s medical marijuana program faces a potential new delay after a judge Thursday ordered a temporary halt to the program pending a hearing as part of a lawsuit that alleges regulators failed to consider racial diversity in licensing businesses. Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams granted a temporary restraining order barring the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from granting new li­censes to grow medical marijuana until a June 2 hearing. The lawsuit by Alternative Medicine Maryland, a majority-black-owned company that failed to getdidn’t get a license, argues that regulators failed to consider minority ownership despite a legal mandate to “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity. In a one-page order, Williams said he granted the motion “on the grounds that irreparable harm will result to plaintiff in the form of loss of ability, once all licenses are issued” to other businesses. [ Third jilted cannabis company sues Maryland ] The ruling comes as Maryland’s long-delayed and controversial medical marijuana program was finally getting off the ground. Regulators had preapproved 15 companies, none led by African Americans, and have given them until August to pass final inspections and background checks. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission last week cleared the first company, ForwardGro of Anne Arundel County, to start growing marijuana. It appears to be unaffected by the order, and Gail Rand, Forward Gro’s chief financial officer, declined to comment on the ruling. The commission will comply with the order to not grant new licenses and continue working to develop the program, Executive Medical marijuana Director Patrick Jameson said. licensed growers and processors condemned the court ruling and dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, noting the leaders of Alternative Medicine Maryland also failed to get a license to grow marijuana in New York.

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