Cannabis Alert: State Senate hearings could change legal landscape of cannabis in Maryland
March 1, 2019
On February 26, 2019, the Maryland State Senate conducted hearings relating to 18 Cannabis bills, which, if passed, would dramatically change the legal landscape for cannabis in Maryland. For companies already in the cannabis business and those considering entering the marketplace, here is a brief overview of some major bills you should be tracking. Shulman Rogers’ cannabis lawyers are intimately involved in tracking the upcoming developments in Maryland and would be happy to provide more insights.
Cannabis-Infused Food Products
- SB0857 allows certain dispensaries to acquire, possess and sell food containing medical cannabis for use by a qualifying patient or caregiver and to allow certain processors to process, package, sell and distribute to a dispensary food containing cannabis for use by a qualifying patient or caregiver.
- SB0859 requires that all advertisements for cannabis or cannabis related products or services to be consistent with federal regulations governing advertising prescription drugs and mandates that all advertisements for growers, processors, dispensaries, independent testing labs, certifying provider or third-party vendors not include any false or misleading statements and maintain compliance with the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
Cannabis and Employee Drug Testing
- SB0863 prohibits certain employers from requiring employees or applicants to disclose their use of marijuana and cannabis. The bill, however, still allows employers to make inquiries or take actions otherwise allowed by local, state or federal laws, if applicants or employees use or are under the influence of marijuana at their place of employment during work hours.
Adult-Use Cannabis Proposal
- SB0771 generally legalizes marijuana for individuals age 21 and older and establishes a regulatory and taxation framework for cannabis establishments as well as a process for expungement and resentencing for marijuana-related offenses.
On Feb. 6, 2019, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission hosted a workshop to provide application guidance regarding diversity criteria for those interested in applying for grower and processor licenses.
There will be up to four new grower licenses and up to 10 new processor licenses awarded as part of the upcoming application period. No additional dispensary licenses will be issued during this time. The MMCC will award up to 15 points based on diversity criteria, out of a possible 100-point total.
At the workshop, the MMCC offered detailed guidance into how Diversity and Socioeconomic Provisions will be scored (will link to slide deck provided). However, our Cannabis Industry Group notes that there are additional takeaways businesses should keep in mind:
- Applicants need to be careful to properly redact copies of the submission delivered to MMCC.
- Zip codes are not the same as Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs). Applicants should check the ZCTAs and not just rely on USPS zip codes.
- The MMCC is not evaluating management agreements that may be put into place.
- Scoring is based on the number of owners, investors and managers in the most disadvantaged group and the total percentage of ownership held by individuals in the most disadvantaged group.
- The current guidelines and rules provide opportunities and challenges for creating the ownership structure.
The 2019 Draft Application is now available online through the MMCC’s website. The Commission is currently reviewing public questions and plans to release the finalized application on March 1. If their anticipated timeline remains on track, the application period will run from March 1 through April 30, 2019, followed by an evaluation period from May 1 through June 30, 2019.