After being accused of racial bias in its awarding of medical marijuana licenses in 2019, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) was found not guilty of discrimination, according to The Baltimore Sun. In fact, the investigation found “no evidence” that the allegations were true was found despite the former delegate saying otherwise.
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, the law firm in charge of the investigation, said that there were several claims of such corrupt practices in the MMCC, which was led by its former delegate Cheryl Glenn. All the allegations were deemed unfounded by the law firm. According to the investigation, “no evidence of bias or undue influence in the 2019 license application review process.”
This is in contrast with Glenn’s guilty plea in January. The guilty plea stated that Glenn accepted thousands worth of bribes amounting to $33,000. The bribed were said to be in exchange for votes or supporting laws related to the cannabis sector in the state, which Glenn helped establish. Zuckerman Spaeder’s report found that these bribes did not have any impact on the licensing review process.
The investigation, however, did acknowledge that the revelations “were troubling” and the former Delegate Glenn’s “communications with [the commission] were quite limited, and [they] found no evidence that she improperly influences the review process.”
Aside from absolving Glenn, the investigation also discharged reports that Morgan State University staff members were related to some applicants, resulting in a biased review. These staff members served as independent reviewers for the application process.
The law firm stated that while “these affiliations arguably violated a provision of the commission’s implementing legislation designed to avoid conflicts of interest for third-party evaluators,” there was “no evidence that these applications were scored more, or less, favorably by either the MSU evaluators or commission staff.”
One of the primary concerns raised by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland were reports that former executive director Joy Strand’s alleged familiar relationship with an applicant. In fact, Delegate Darryl Barnes wrote o the attorney general saying that Strand was closely related to a person affiliated with a company applying for a license. Again, Zuckerman Spaeder found no evidence to support the allegations regarding Strand.
Regarding the investigation, Barnes said, “It’s troubling for me that with the hundreds of people that came to me, and Del. Glenn at the time, and raised all these concerns, that they found no infractions at all.” Because of this, Barnes is pushing for a meeting between the Legislative Black Caucus leaders and the MMCC to discuss the findings. This aims to make sure that the investigation was done with transparency and fairness in mind.
Aside from the Zuckerman Spaeder review, another report was submitted by a subcommittee in the MMCC. This investigation looked into the accuracy of the info included in the applications. This study has not been released as of yet. However, it is set to be reviewed on October 1, when the MMCC conducts another committee meeting. This info was disclosed by new executive director William Tilburg through an email.