A report released on January 17, 2018, by Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has provided data on discrimination in the overall economy toward businesses owned by women and minorities.
Jon Wainwright, an economist and managing director of NERA Economic Consulting noted that last year’s study suggested dissimilarities in economy-wide state contracting within some of Maryland’s relevant markets. These disparities are even greater in the public sector. The reasoning being offered toward the differences is due to a state-operated minority business enterprise program. The program is meant to reduce discrimination in public procurement but does not yet eliminate it entirely.
The evidence would support lawmakers who are sponsoring legislation to create five medical marijuana cultivation licenses for minority-owned businesses. A previous bill failed to pass the prior year.
Maryland’s medical marijuana program began having dispensaries sell within the state. Despite the 14 companies licensed to grow marijuana, however, none are owned by black owners, though nearly one-third of the state’s population is black.
There is a strong interest in Maryland’s marijuana market, as it is expected to be highly profitable. The expectation comes from allowing marijuana to be available to those with severe conditions that other medical treatments prove ineffective. Doctors, as well as nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse midwives, can recommend its use.
Wainwright stated in his report, “Absent such affirmative remedial efforts by the State; I would expect to see evidence in the relevant markets in which the medical cannabis licensees will operate that is consistent with the continued presence of business discrimination.”