Medical Marijuana Heads Agenda on Last Day of Maryland General Assembly

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (standing) speaks to colleagues on the Senate floor on April 6. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (standing) speaks to colleagues on the Senate floor on April 6. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The 90-day Maryland General Assembly comes to a close at midnight Monday, and though the top objective was achieved when a $44.5 billion budget was approved last month, lawmakers still have dozens of bills they plan to review on the final day, including compromises on medical marijuana.

According to the legislation, Senate and House lawmakers reached a deal Saturday to limit the number of processors to 28. In addition, the bill would add 20 new licenses to grow and process marijuana to ensure racial diversity, as well as allow a former member of the General Assembly who leaves after one year in office to become an owner or have an official relationship with a medical marijuana business. The previous language set the mark for a person to wait two years.

The legislation would force the state’s medical cannabis commission, named after the mother of Baltimore City Delegate Cheryl Glenn, “to the extent permitted by federal and state law, actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic, gender and geographic diversity when licensing medical cannabis growers” and “encourage applicants who qualify as a minority business enterprise.”

Hope Wiseman, a 25-year-old Spelman graduate, plans to open a dispensary called Mary and Main’s in Capital Heights this winter. As a co-founder of Compassionate Herbal Alternative, she’s the youngest Black woman in the nation to own a dispensary.

The Senate plans to ratify the measure Monday and then go to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for his signature.

In terms of local legislation for Prince George’s County, two bills to revamp the school system remain in limbo in the Senate.

The proposed changes stem from controversies such as alleged pay raises for high-ranking school staff and grade inflation among high school seniors that some officials, educators and residents have called lack of accountability.

The House unanimously approved both pieces of legislation March 19. Hearings took place March 28 before the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee to review for elected members of the school board to select its vice chair and create an inspector general office estimated at $190,000.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, who chairs the committee, said a letter hasn’t been received from senators representing Prince George’s on whether they recommended approval of the proposals.

Sen. Jim Rosepepe (D-District 21), who leads the county’s Senate delegation, said Friday after the Senate adjourned,” Nothing has happened in the Senate. It remains there.”

Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-District 26) of Accokeek has been critical of school leadership.

Muse said legislation he previously offered that includes an all-elected school board should’ve been voted on by the entire county delegation. He criticized Delegate Jay Walker (D-District 26), who chairs the House delegation, for not allowing that to happen.

Walker had a simple message for Muse.

“He needs to get the bill voted out the Senate,” he said. “He needs to do his job.”

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About William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer 550 Articles
I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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