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Black caucus sets early deadline for medical marijuana bill

Rachel Baye

To mark the start of the General Assembly session Wednesday, the state Legislative Black Caucus announced plans to push for bail reform, money for historically black colleges and universities, and the development of State Center in Baltimore. And the powerful group took a firm stand on medical marijuana.

None of the 15 firms licensed to grow marijuana in Maryland are owned by African Americans. The caucus plans to change that.

A bill aimed at diversifying the fledgling industry died on the last day of session last year. This year, failure isn’t an option, said caucus chairwoman Cheryl Glenn.

“We will have that bill passed in both chambers, on the desk of the governor, by the end of January — no later than the end of January,” Glenn said.

Caucus members have previously warned that they won’t cooperate on other Democratic priorities if the bill doesn’t pass swiftly. Both House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller have promised to make the legislation one of the first issues they tackle.

The measure alters the commission that licenses growers and creates a fund to make the drug available to people with low incomes.

It’s scheduled for a committee hearing on Monday and could be on the floor of the House as early as next week.

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