ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland legislative ethics panel is looking into a state lawmaker’s connection to a medical marijuana company, according to two officials briefed on the inquiry.
The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, which is comprised of House and Senate members, is scheduled to meet Oct. 19 to decide whether to move forward with a full investigation into Del. Dan Morhaim, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because ethics matters before the committee are confidential.
Morhaim, who is a doctor, was a leading advocate for legislation to allow medical marijuana in Maryland. He also was a consultant for Doctors Orders Maryland, a company that has been selected as a finalist to both grow and process medical marijuana in the state.
Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat, has said he cleared his involvement with the legislature’s ethics adviser.
“I followed all ethics rules and regulations,” Morhaim wrote in an email on Friday. “I will cooperate fully with the Legislative Ethics Committee.”
The committee will focus on state ethics law that prohibits an official from intentionally using the prestige of office for private gain or that of another, one of the officials who confirmed the panel’s initial inquiry said.
Morhaim was one of six lawmakers who served on a legislative conference committee on medical marijuana legislation in 2014, when three delegates and three senators worked out differences between the two chambers on the legislation. Morhaim also sponsored legislation this year that successfully expanded the law to allow dentists, podiatrists and certain registered nurses —as well as physicians — to certify patients as eligible to receive marijuana. Morhaim was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1994.
Maryland’s medical marijuana program is expected to be potentially lucrative for businesses that win licenses, because the state’s law takes a liberal approach to marijuana access for the sick.
The licensing process in Maryland’s developing medical marijuana program has been extremely competitive. There were 146 applicants for 15 licenses to grow marijuana. There were 124 applicants for 15 processor licenses. One company is suing the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, after the panel bumped the company out of the top 15 applicants to grow marijuana and replaced it with another company to satisfy geographic diversity concerns.