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  • Writer's pictureTina Maiolo

District of Columbia and Maryland’s Cannabis Social Equity License Verification Deadlines

District of Columbia Deadline is October 30, 2023

The application period for D.C.’s medical cannabis business license opened on August 29, 2023, and will close on October 30, 2023. The District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration offers six types of medical cannabis business licenses, including, courier, cultivation center, internet retailer, manufacturer, retailer, and testing laboratory, the ABCA also offers one permit for a certification training provider. The application period closing later this month is for social equity applicants and non-social equity applicants seeking courier, cultivation center, and manufacturer licenses.

The ABCA has reserved 50% of all new licenses for social equity applications. To qualify as social equity, a business applicant must: Have at least one owner who is a resident of the District of Columbia who individually or collectively owns 50% of the business and meets two of the three criteria below:

  • Is a returning citizen;

  • Married to, has a child, is the child of a person, or has a non-parent legal guardian, or a grandparent or sibling who is or has been arrested, convicted, or incarcerated in any jurisdiction for a cannabis or drug-related offense; or

  • Has an income that does not exceed 150% of the median family income established by U.S. HUD, at the time of application submission.

Applicants must submit a Social Equity Declaration Form and a Social Equity Attestation Statement and other documentation that substantiates at least two of the above criteria. Qualification is only available during open application periods. For additional information on how to apply and qualify, the ABCA published a step-by-step application guide on its website.

Maryland’s Deadline is November 7, 2023

The first round of Maryland’s Cannabis License Application Period, which opens from November 13, 2023 – December 12, 2023, is limited to qualified social equity applicants. Under the Maryland Cannabis Reform Act, eligible social equity applicants may receive financial assistance with startup capital and operational costs for growers, processors, and retailers. Social equity applicants seeking cannabis business licenses must have at least 65% ownership in the company and meet one of the following criteria of the statutory definition of social equity applicant:

  • Lived in a disproportionately impacted area for 5 of the last 10 years;

  • Attended a public school in a disproportionately impacted area for at least 5 years; or

  • For at least two years attended a four-year higher education institution in Maryland where at least 40% of the attendees are eligible for a Pell Grant.

A “disproportionately impacted area” is legally defined as a geographic area that had over 150% of Maryland’s 10-year average for cannabis possession charges, as identified by the Office of Social Equity. A map of these areas, along with a list of qualifying schools and higher education institutions, is available on the Office of Social Equity’s website.

The Maryland Cannabis Administration created an online portal, which opened on September 8, 2023, to allow individuals to check their eligibility before the application period in November. Verification of eligibility is required prior to applying and the portal is scheduled to close on November 7, 2023. For more information on Maryland’s Cannabis Reform Act, check out the article: Maryland Now Accepting Applications for Grants Under Cannabis Adult-Use Laws.

Please feel free to contact Tina Maiolo, Carr Maloney’s Cannabis Law Team Leader, if you are interested in or have any questions about the Cannabis License Application process in D.C. and/or Maryland.


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