A total of 15 marijuana cultivation licenses are up for grabs this summer in Maryland, and a review of the 144 companies that submitted applications for cultivator licenses shows just how big the business of medical marijuana has become.
The Washington Post obtained records that explain exactly who is applying to make money from growing marijuana, and it’s a surprisingly diverse list. Taking a look at the people trying to get into the medical marijuana economy in Maryland, it’s clear that this is a growing business that people from all walks of life want to profit from.
Who’s Who of Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Cultivation License Applicants
More than 950 people are either working for or investing in the companies applying to grow marijuana in Maryland for medical use. Some of the titles and backgrounds on the list include:
- Former Drug Enforcement Administration special agents
- Leader of a Maryland statewide police union
- Former heads of the Department of Natural Resources police
- Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief
- Business executive with ties to Governor Larry Hogan and Bill and Hillary Clinton
- Former IRS criminal division special agent
- Former Department of Homeland Security counterintelligence officer
- Former sheriff of Cecil County, MD and current head of the same county’s minimum security jail
- Retired Syracuse, NY police chief
- Former Allegany County, MD police chief
- Former U.S. Capitol Police chief
- Former Army Major General
- Lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union
- Head of Maryland’s Fraternal Order of Police
- Former head of the Washington, D.C. police union
- Former Prince George’s County homicide detective
- Former Anne Arundel County sheriff
- Former high-ranking state trooper
- Maryland Transit Administration director of government affairs
- Managing partner of a private equity firm
- Chief executive of Bell Nursery
- Director of the family division of Prince George’s County Circuit Court
- Baltimore Housing Commissioner
- Washington lawyer who was general counsel on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign
- Former top Maryland health official, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange board member, and Secretary of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents
- Former top labor regulator
- Former state delegate
- Former Baltimore Ravens player
- Colorado grower and activist
- Partners at a Colorado legal practice
- Founder of a national chain of urgent care centers
- Former state senator and lobbyist
- Former Baltimore Housing Commissioner
- Former Laurel, MD mayor and state delegate
- Owner of wine and liquor store, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill
- Former dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine
- Former head of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the agency that oversees the medical pot regulating commission)
- A rabbi
- Former state delegate and associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Silver Spring, MD
- Former tobacco farmer
That’s quite a list! In total, the Washington Post found that of the 144 companies which applied for cultivation licenses in Maryland, at least 24 have political ties, at least 29 have law enforcement ties, and at least 47 have out-of-state ties with the most applicants having ties to Colorado (19) and Illinois (11).
Big Expectations for Medical Marijuana in Maryland
Companies and their investors have very big expectations for the Maryland medical marijuana market. In 2014, the Maryland General Assembly estimated that the state could earn $136.4 million per year in tax revenues if medical marijuana was legalized. In February 2016, Arcview projected first year marijuana sales of $9.7 million and up to $60 million in 2020.
It’s not surprising that more people from more diverse backgrounds want to get into the marijuana industry than ever. Maryland will also give 15 processor licenses (128 applications have been received) and 94 dispensary licenses (811 applications have been received), and it’s safe to assume the people behind those applications are just as diverse.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.