Amid ongoing investigations and the indictment and guilty plea of former Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore City), House lawmakers received an update Wednesday from the leaders of the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission.
During the briefing before the House Health and Government Operations Committee, Executive Director William Tilburg addressed the series of problems that the commission has faced in the last few months — notably licensure application delays and Glenn’s charges.
Glenn resigned in December ahead of bribery and federal wire fraud charges raised against her for pushing cannabis legislation for personal economic gain. She pleaded guilty during an arraignment held Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore.
Tilburg said that Glenn was passionate about medical marijuana legislation and advocated for the creation of the commission, which was named for her mother. He also described her as a critic who pushed for equity in the program.
In light of “all the stories and the allegations, and the hearing that’s going on momentarily in Baltimore,” Tilburg made clear that lawmakers, including Glenn, had no hand in the following:
- Developing emergency regulations meant to address inequities in the certification process
- The redevelopment of licensure applications
- Evaluating or giving feedback on any applications
“Going further: No one has had any access to any nonpublic information,” Tilburg said. “It’s critical to put that up front. There were a lot of measures put into place by commissioners to ensure the impartiality of the evaluation process.”
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is currently pursuing two investigations to ensure honesty and equity in the process of allotting licenses: One which is aimed at confirming that newly implemented measures to ensure an equitable application process were successful, and another to verify that the current batch of applicants at the top of the 2019 ranking meet licensure requirements.
The commission became a target of criticism for changes in its applicant review process. In a collaborative effort between the commission and Morgan State University, 202 applications were reviewed without any information that may have identified the applicants’ demography. The reports were then compiled and the highest-ranking applicants were notified.
Despite the anonymity, the impartiality of the review process was still questioned.
In September, the commission delayed the announcement of licenses. In a publicly released letter to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and former Senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), commission Chairman Brian B. Lopez wrote that a number of factors contributed to the decision, including an appeal by the Legislative Black Caucus to postpone handing out the licenses, which Lopez attributed to their “concerns about the process;” a request made by commissioners for more time to verify qualifying information for high-ranking applicants; and a court decision granting a temporary embargo on any approvals being granted.
Tilburg stated in the meeting that he is currently unable to share who will lead the investigations, but hopes to be able to “in the very near term.”
When asked what the next steps are after the findings of both investigations, he said it depends on the results.
“Nothing has been predetermined,” Tilburg said. “We have to see the results of these investigations before commissioners can say what happens next.”