Maryland’s Court of Appeals has blocked a Baltimore judge from holding a hearing which could have put the entire medical cannabis industry rollout in the state on hold, the Baltimore Sun reports. The lawsuit stems from the licensing process, which minority-led medical cannabis businesses contend didn’t follow the racial diversity provisions included in the law.
Last week, Circuit Judge Barry Williams issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from issuing any more cannabis cultivation licenses. Following the decision, attorneys for 13 of the 15 companies given preliminary approval stepped in to ask the Court of Appeal to stop the hearing so they could participate in the process. So far just one final license has been issued.
“Our clients played by the rules and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Alan Rifkin, a lawyer for the companies, in the report. “They have a right to be heard.”
The ruling will allow the licensing process to continue, for now, and some of the growers anticipate they could have products ready for patients by the end of the summer.
“We’re happy that we can move forward,” Jake Van Wingerden, chairmen of the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association and president of SunMed Growers said. “The battle is not over. We won a skirmish.”
Van Wingerden estimates that the companies – the majority of which have only been granted preliminary licenses – have already spent $150 million setting up their businesses.
None of the 15 companies approved by the MMCC are minority-owned; the state law requires that the commission “actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic and geographic diversity when licensing medical cannabis growers.”