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Medical marijuana bill still pending on Sine Die

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As the General Assembly hurdles toward Monday night’s deadline, one measure that still hangs in the balance would increase the number of business that can get licenses to grow medical marijuana. The bill aims to give more minority-owned businesses a shot at growing or processing the drug.

The bill needs one more Senate vote before it goes back to the House for approval of the Senate’s changes to the bill — all before midnight.

The House increased the number of growers and processors to 20, from 15 in current law. The Senate version bumps that to 22. The additional licenses would go to minority-owned businesses.

African Americans hold less than 1 percent of all medical marijuana grower licenses nationwide, said Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore City Democrat who sponsored the bill.

“And we want to show the rest of the country that that is not the right way,” she said, “especially when given the disproportionate impact of marijuana laws on African Americans over the years.”

Speaking during Monday’s floor debate, Senate Minority Whip Stephen Hershey questioned the need for additional licenses and advocated the state’s medical marijuana program move forward as is.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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