Last March, Maryland Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, voiced her concern with the racial diversity makeup of approved marijuana growers, as well as the commission that made those decisions. (Linda Davidson, Washington Post)

Maryland’s medical marijuana industry struggles to diversify

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A new round of medical marijuana licensing was intended to increase diversity in Maryland’s industry, but the proposed legislation instead favors companies that already have licenses.

The Baltimore Sun reports the concept that passed the House of Delegates 121-16 last week sets aside four of the 15 new licenses for companies that already hold them.

Only one of the 30 licenses awarded two years ago went to a black-owned firm, prompting a governor-commissioned study that found minority-owned companies faces disadvantages in the industry.

The legislation’s proponents say they’re trying to pave the way for vertical integration — growing, processing and distributing — thus reducing the cost of medical marijuana, which isn’t covered by insurance.

The remaining 11 licenses won’t be granted for a year after the competitive bidding process ends.

Information from: The Baltimore Sun

Related: Maryland’s marijuana diversity report released, but what does it mean for minority business owners?