Maryland officials have announced details of a technical assistance program to support marijuana social equity applicants for a business licensing round that opens in November.
The Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) and Office of Social Equity (OSE) said on Thursday that people who plan to apply for an equity license will be able to attend informational sessions led by regulators and experts to navigate the process ahead of the 30-day application period.
Those sessions, which will take place at events throughout the state starting in October, will look at issues such as business formation, partnership agreements, finances and taxes and raising capital.
“We believe in the power of knowledge, support, and collaboration. Our upcoming technical assistance events are more than just informational sessions; they are a testament to our commitment to empowering social equity license applicants,” OSE Executive Director Audrey Johnson said in a press release. “Together, we’ll navigate the licensing process, opening doors to opportunities that will shape Maryland’s cannabis industry for the better.”
Meanwhile, the Maryland Department of Commerce (DOC) also announced on Thursday that it has set eligibility requirements for a next funding round for its Social Equity License Application Assistance Reimbursement Grant program.
Equity applicants can apply for the grant money to “offset the cost of accountants, attorneys and other providers of technical assistance,” though the department is encouraging people to first utilize no-cost resources through MCA and OSE before submitting applications for the funding opportunity.
“Under the program, social equity applicants who complete a cannabis license application can be reimbursed up to 50 percent of eligible application preparation costs with the maximum grant being $5,000,” a description says. “Eligible expenses include consultant or advisory fees associated with writing a business plan, an operational plan and a detailed diversity plan; advisory costs on forming the business and determining its structure; and language translation costs incurred in completing the application.”
DOC started accepting applications for $40 million in grant funding to social equity applicants with pre-approval last month.
Regulators have already been accepting applications to provide grants through the same fund to help existing medical marijuana businesses convert into dual licensees that can serve the adult-use market.
The resources are timely and targeted, as November 13 marks the beginning of a 30-day application period for marijuana business licensing that will be exclusive to social equity applicants. MCA will ultimately be accepting a total of 179 cannabis licensees, including 75 dispensaries, 16 growers and 32 processors.
That will more than double the number of retailers in the state, where currently only existing medical marijuana dispensaries that converted to dual licenses are serving adult consumers.
Earlier this month, regulators also unveiled a new portal that will allow people to check their eligibility for a social equity marijuana business license before regulators begin to accept the applications.
Equity applicants are defined as those whose business is at least 65 percent owned by people who’ve lived in a designated “disproportionately impacted area” for a minimum of five of the last 10 years. They must also have attended a public school in such an area for at least five years, or attended a four-year college in Maryland where at least 40 percent of the students are eligible for a federal Pell Grant.
Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.
Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.
Maryland’s cannabis market has proved popular since opening in July. The state saw nearly $92 million in marijuana sales in August—and an increase from July’s $87 million in receipts and more than double the typical sales numbers from when the market was open only to medical patients.
MCA’s Andrew Garrison said in July that the state was uniquely prepared for the implementation of the marijuana legalization law, which followed deep study from lawmakers and voter approval of a reform initiative at the ballot last year.
As regulators assess the first months of recreational marijuana sales, Garrison said officials are also actively working on a “cleanup bill” to adjust regulations that he expects will be taken up by the legislature during the next session.
MCA will be holding what it describes as “limited town halls” with stakeholder groups, including dispensaries, growers and patient advocates to develop permanent regulations. That process will also involve public comment periods once the draft rules are ready to be published.
Meanwhile, a Maryland tax official recently said that the state has found an unusual workaround with Wells Fargo in order to avoid clearly identifying marijuana tax revenue on financial forms—a policy that prohibitionists are protesting and asking a federal prosecutor to investigate.
Separately, a separate Maryland law also took effect in July that prevents police from using the odor or possession of marijuana alone as the basis of a search. Yet another law that went into force makes it so the lawful and responsible use of cannabis by parents and guardians cannot be construed by state officials as child “neglect.”
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.