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Prospective pot grower seeks to join lawsuit

A company that was denied a preliminary license to grow medical marijuana in Maryland is seeking to join a lawsuit challenging how regulators authorized 15 growers for the potentially lucrative industry.

Maryland Cultivation and Processing was one of two prospective growers that submitted one of the 15 highest-ranking applications but was rejected by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in favor of lower-scoring companies from underrepresented parts of the state.

The other company, Green Thumb Industries Maryland, filed a lawsuit in Baltimore City Circuit Court earlier this month alleging that the reshuffling was illegal. On Wednesday, Maryland Cultivation and Processing submitted a petition to join the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that commissioners broke their own rules by telling prospective marijuana cultivation applicants that their locations were not relevant, then basing final decisions about which ones would get preliminary licenses on the counties in which the applicants planned to operate. The suit also raises questions about why regulators voted unanimously on July 27 to accept the 15 highest-ranking applications and reversed themselves two days later.

Commission vice chair Buddy Robshaw previously told The Washington Post that he pushed for the reversal after learning none of the highest-ranking growers planned to operate in swaths of southern and southeastern Maryland. The medical marijuana legalization law calls for geographic diversity in cultivation sites.

The commission and state attorney general’s office, which represents state agencies in court, have declined to comment on pending litigation.

Maryland Cultivation and Processing is led by Andras Kirschner and Edward Weidenfeld, co-founders of a marijuana-growing operation in the District of Columbia, where medical cannabis has been legal for years.

Weidenfeld, a longtime District lawyer who was general counsel to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, says he joined the industry after learning the benefits of marijuana in treating his Parkinson’s disease.

Maryland’s long-delayed medical marijuana program is grappling with several controversies, including a possible ethics probe into a lawmaker who was instrumental in legalizing and regulating the industry, and complaints from elected officials objecting to the lack of racial diversity among approved growers.

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