Cannabis Commission Reconfigured, With Familiar Faces

    Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) named new members to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission on Tuesday – but there will be plenty of familiar faces moving forward.

    Hogan reappointed the commission’s chairman, Brian P. Lopez, who was originally appointed to the commission in 2017 as a member of the public who supports medical cannabis. As a partner in Osprey Property Co., he now fills a position requiring experience with executive fiduciary responsibilities.

    Lopez’s reappointment as chairman comes as the commission faces continued questions about diversity in the licenses it issues. Last Thursday, the commission put off awarding four new grower and 10 new processing licenses after an injunction was issued by a Montgomery County judge. A Gaithersburg-based applicant sought the injunction, raising concerns about the application process, which was beset by technical issues. The case was transferred to Anne Arundel County Circuit Court this week.

    At the same time, members of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus have continued to express concern about the racial diversity of the industry. In January 2018, a disparity study concluded that the commission could use race- and gender-based measures to boost diversity in the industry, sparking the push to add the 15 new licenses, which was approved by the General Assembly in the final hours of the 2018 session. That legislation also changed the composition of the commission, the size of which was decreased from 16 members to 13, effective Tuesday.

    Hogan named seven appointees on Tuesday, including five members who were re-appointed.

    The four current members who were reappointed are:

    • Ehsan Abdeshahian, a pain management and sports medicine doctor;
    • Charles P. LoDico, a senior chemist/toxicologist for the Department of Health and Human Services;
    • Saundra O. Washington, executive director of LifeStyles, Inc., which provides social services in Southern Maryland; and
    • Scott L. Welsh, owner of Maryland Flower and Foliage who was chosen for his experience in horticulture.

    New appointees from Hogan are C. Obi Onyewu, a pain medicine physician at CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, and Mary Lynn McPherson, a professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Maryland and a consultant for hospice and palliative care programs.

    Hogan will name two other members, including one with experience in hospice care.

    Hogan will also choose three additional members from a list of six people submitted by the Senate president and speaker of the House.

    Maryland’s health secretary, or a designee, also holds a seat on the commission.

    All the nominated members must receive Senate confirmation next year.

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.