Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has appointed a new patient advocate to the 16-member Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which has come under fire for, among other things, not considering racial diversity of companies when awarding the first batch of marijuana cultivation licenses this summer.
The governor selected Saundra Washington, an African American cancer survivor and director of a Maryland nonprofit group that provides food and charity to people in need, after consulting with the General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus.
Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore), the caucus’s president, said Washington wasn’t the group’s recommendation. But she welcomed additional diversity to the regulatory body, which previously had only one African American.
Glenn, a strong proponent of medical marijuana, said she will push legislation in the upcoming 2017 session to overhaul the structure of the commission, which she and other critics say is not suited to oversee a complex, multimillion-dollar industry of growers, processors and dispensers.
Washington replaces Deborah Miran, a longtime medical marijuana advocate. Miran was the sole commissioner who dissented from a decision to award preliminary growing licenses to lower-ranked applicants in an attempt to spread cultivation sites across the state. That decision is the subject of a lawsuit against the commission.
Miran told The Washington Post that she plans to continue her advocacy for what she considers an “amazing plant.”
“My dream is to see the first patient in Maryland legally dosed,” Miran said. “I’ll just be seeing it as an ex-commissioner.”