A prohibition on licenses for growing and processing medical marijuana has been extended in Maryland after a ruling last week by a judge in the state.

The prohibition stems from a temporary restraining order issued last month by Judge Ronald B. Rubin after a company called Remileaf filed a complaint arguing that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission bungled its application for a growing and processing license.

The restraining order was set to expire on Monday, but late last week, Rubin extended it until October 17.

In its complaint, Remileaf asserted that it submitted its application by the deadline of May 24, but that due to problems with the online system, the commission extended the deadline, which in turn required Remileaf to re-submit the application.

The company contends that it deployed a representative to the commission’s office on the date of the new deadline to submit a physical application, but that the representative was denied admission into the office.

Restraining Order Drawing Criticism

Under the restraining order, the state is prohibited from issuing additional cannabis licenses. In his decision last month, Rubin said that Remileaf “has shown a fair chance of prevailing on the merits of its claims, having raised serious and substantial problems regarding the bidding process and its administration by the [Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission], and the seeming irregularity of the procedures employed.”

“If relief is not granted, [Remileaf] will not receive pre-approval for, much less an actual license, to grow or to sell medical cannabis in Maryland,” Rubin wrote in his ruling. “The public may very well be deprived of the best possible provider.”

The restraining order precluded the awarding of four licenses to growers and 10 licenses to processors that were set to be doled out by the commission on September 26.

In addition to the lawsuit from Remileaf, the commission is also drawing scrutiny from the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, which had also sought the postponement of awarding new licenses over concerns about whether minority-owned cannabis firms were getting a fair shake. A law passed last year mandated the commission to give out more licenses with the aim of enhancing diversity within the state’s cannabis program.

In a letter last month to the commission, the caucus said there were “significant issues and concerns raised about the process being used to determine winners and losers for these new licenses.” 

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