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More medical marijuana licenses would be awarded in deal reached by Maryland legislative leaders

March 24th, 2017 by WCBC Radio

General Assembly leaders have coalesced around a plan to issue an additional five medical marijuana growing licenses and increase the likelihood that several of those lucrative deals go to minority-owned companies. The Baltimore Sun reports the consensus emerging in Annapolis about how to revamp the state's fledgling medical cannabis industry also includes creating a "compassionate use" fund to help poor patients and veterans pay for the drug.

The deal, though, falls short of demands lodged by the influential Legislative Black Caucus, which wanted to disband the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission and put the licensing process on hold.

Black lawmakers were outraged in August when none of the 15 preliminary winners of licenses to grow marijuana went to firms owned by African-Americans — despite a state law mandating regulators consider racial diversity.

Maryland's medical marijuana program is among the slowest in the country to get off the ground and, in recent months, has been beset by lawsuits and legislative wrangling over how licenses should be awarded.

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