Data Dive: Breaking Down Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Industry By Race & Gender

It’s been a long, bumpy road for Maryland’s medical marijuana program, which voters first approved back in 2013.

Access to medical cannabis has been delayed by disputes over how the state awards its dispensary, cultivator, and processor licenses. Some of the potential licensees sued the state and the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) because, according to the potential licensees, MMCC officials did not consider the racial diversity of the applicants, as is required under the original law.

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That law was aimed at boosting minority-owned business participation in the state’s developing industry. Historically, people of color have been far more greatly harmed by the war on drugs than white people; yet the owners of cannabis business licenses in America’s emerging legal industry tend to be far more white and male than the population at large.

In Maryland, state courts are currently reviewing two separate cases alleging that state regulators improperly picked grow license winners.

One of the unique aspects of Maryland’s medical marijuana law is a requirement to report and post data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of cannabis business owners and employees. Leafly has translated that data into a number of graphs, below, that give a bit of insight into how the state is doing with its allocation of licenses. For context, the population of Maryland is about 58% white and 42% minority.

According to the data, white men are the most likely demographic group to own a state-licensed cannabis grow operation. As the data point out, only 15% of grow operations are owned by minorities, and 23% are owned by women.

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There’s a similar divide among cannabis processors: 27% are owned by women, and 27% are owned by minority entrepreneurs.

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Among dispensary owners, the numbers break about 60% male, 40% female.

Here’s a look at the Maryland medical marijuana industry as a whole:


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