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On September 8, 2023, the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA)
announced that the first application cycle for cannabis business
licenses will open on November 13, 2023 and run for 30 days,
through December 12, 2023. This first round for cannabis business
licenses is exclusively for social equity applicants and represents
the period of time in which a verified social equity applicant can
submit their completed application to the MCA.

A Social Equity Applicant is an applicant who has at least 65 %
ownership and control held by one or more individuals who have:

(1) Lived in a “disproportionately impacted area” for
at least five of the past 10 years; or

(2) Attended a public school in a “disproportionately
impacted area” for at least 5 years; or

(3) For at least 2 years, attended a 4-year institution of
higher education in the State where at least 40% of the individuals
who attend are eligible for a Pell Grant.

To be a verified Social Equity Applicant, an applicant must
provide specific documentation depending on which criteria they
fall under (see MCA – Acceptable Verification
) and complete the following form: Cannabis Business License Interest Form.

The cannabis business license application has
not yet been released.

In advance of the forthcoming application release, MCA recently
opened the Social Equity Verification Portal, a prerequisite to the
application process, on September 8. This portal instructs
prospective licensees on the social equity applicant eligibility
requirements and allows them to confirm their social equity status
before the application period opens on November 13, 2023. The
Social Equity Verification portal will remain open for a period of
60 days, closing on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Upon release of the application, a verified Social Equity
Applicant who meets the cannabis business license application’s
minimum requirements—to be graded on a pass/fail
— will be placed in a randomized lottery.
The lottery will be based on license type (i.e., grower, processor,
dispensary) and the county or region for which the application was
submitted. Under the Cannabis Reform Act, lottery selection will
begin on or before January 1, 2024.

MCA released the total number of available licenses
based on geographical area.

The total number of cannabis business licenses available during
the first round are outlined below and will be distributed
throughout the State based on the license type and the geographical

Standard Dispensary License Distribution:

There are 75 standard dispensary licenses available. The
distribution of available licenses per county can be viewed HERE.

Standard Grower, Processor and Micro License

For distribution of the remaining license types, MCA disclosed
that the State will be divided into the following four regions:

  1. Western Region: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick,
    Garrett, Montgomery and Washington counties
  2. Southern Region: Anne Arundel, Calvert,
    Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties
  3. Central Region: Baltimore, Baltimore City,
    Cecil, Harford, and Howard counties.
  4. Eastern Region: Caroline, Dorchester, Kent,
    Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester

Equal numbers of the remaining license types will be distributed
throughout these geographic regions as indicated below:

Number in

Each Region

Total in

Round 1


See also MCA’s Distribution of Growers, Processors and
Micro Licenses

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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