RACIAL DISPARITIES ON RX POT TO BE STUDIED: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday ordered a study of racial disparities in the state’s medical marijuana industry, the first step to justifying preferences for minority-owned businesses, writes Fenit Nirappil in the Post. His move follows the collapse of legislative negotiations to diversify the industry after a furor over regulators awarding 15 preliminary cultivation licenses last year to a group of mostly white-owned companies.
- Such a study is considered a prerequisite for giving preference to African-Americans and other minorities when awarding licenses to grow, process or distribute the drug, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. Black-owned businesses were shut out in the first round of 15 preliminary license awards to grow cannabis plants, despite a state law requiring the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to “actively seek to achieve” racial diversity among license winners.
- Meanwhile, a key Senate committee chairwoman said she believes an agreement is close at hand that could result in a special session to address minority participation in the industry, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
- WBFF-TV reports that a press release issued by the governor’s office says, “The governor’s directive is responsive to concerns expressed by the Legislative Black Caucus, and shared by the administration, regarding diversity in this emerging industry.”
CONCEPTION QUESTION: If a child is conceived as the result of a sexual assault, everyone is pretty much in agreement that the “rapist” or perpetrator of the act should not have custody or access to the child. But the real issue in this legislation has always been how to determine if a child was conceived as the result of a sexual assault or consensual sex without a criminal trial, former Del. Luiz Simmons writes in an op-ed in the Sun.
REDEFINING RAPE: The recent General Assembly session made significant changes in state law about sexual assault, and held back from some other changes. In this half-hour segment, Sheilah Kast of WYPR-FM talks with Lisae Jordan of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and Amanda Rodriguez of Baltimore’s rape crisis center TurnAround.
BPW & SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: For the second year in a row, legislative leaders added language to the state budget to curb the Board of Public Works’ role in approving school construction funding. And for the second year in a row, two members of the Board of Public Works said they would have none of it, reports Danielle Gaines for the Frederick News-Post.
ELLICOTT CITY’s WALL: An earthquake and then a flood forced officials to repair a parking lot retaining wall in hilly Ellicott City, Donna Morelli of the Bay Journal reports in MarylandReporter. The wall, already weakened by the magnitude 5.8 quake that shook the East Coast in 2011, was damaged a month later when Tropical Storm Lee took its toll on the historic business district of shops and restaurants. Howard County’s innovative repair job did more than restore the wall — it netted the community an architecturally designed staircase, showy native gardens, a waterfall, less stormwater pollution of the Patapsco River and a BUBBA.
ON BIPARTISANSHIP, REDISTRICTING: It sounded more like a crime scene when Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot described Maryland congressional districts, writes Chase Cook in the Capital. “Anne Arundel County (districts) shouldn’t look like blood thrown on the wall,” Franchot said. Franchot and Gov. Larry Hogan held a 35-minute question and answer session during the joint lunch of Anne Arundel County Chambers of Commerce on Thursday. They lamented the lack of bipartisan work between Democrats and Republicans in Maryland and Washington D.C.
BA CO WON’T RELEASE BODY CAM FOOTAGE: After fast-tracking a $12.5 million program to equip its police officers with body cameras, the Baltimore County Police Department has declined to release footage from three recent police shootings. Alison Knezevich and Pamela Wood of the Sun write that county police have shot six people in four separate incidents since January, killing two of them.
POLITCAL POTPOURRI: Josh Kurtz at Maryland Matters offers up four political items in his latest posting about Alec Ross, newbie candidate for governor; Franchot’s beer bash; MoCo council races; and Quincey Gamble’s new advocacy group.