Maryland House passes bill that would add medical marijuana licenses

The House of Delegates approved legislation Tuesday that would overhaul Maryland's system for regulating medical marijuana while expanding the number of grower's licenses to open the industry to minorities.

The 90-45 vote, enough to override a possible veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, sends the bill to the Senate with less than a week remaining in the General Assembly session.

Passing the measure is one of the leading goals of the Legislative Black Caucus this year. The caucus objected after the commission that regulates the industry awarded none of the state's 15 grower's licenses to minority-controlled businesses.

The bill would provide for the issuance of five additional licenses after a study is conducted on whether African-Americans and other minorities had undergone discrimination in related industries. Such a study could yield legal justification for giving minority applicants an advantage in any award of the next five licenses.

The measure faces opposition from companies that were awarded the first 15 licenses. Hogan has not taken a public position on the bill, but most House Republicans voted against it.

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