Among the hundreds of bills heading to Gov. Wes Moore’s desk is one that could pose a potential conflict of interest: legislation outlining rules for recreational cannabis sales starting July 1.
Moore is a former board member for Green Thumb Industries, a multistate cannabis company that operates four medical cannabis dispensaries in Maryland. And as recently as last spring, the Democrat held 170,730 subordinate voting shares in the company worth $1 million, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Moore left the company’s board of directors in March of 2022.
The Moore administration said the governor plans to sign the licensing and taxation bill, but did not answer if Moore still owns Green Thumb stock or if he has set up a blind trust, as he promised before election.
“Governor Moore is always focused on the best interests of Marylanders and he plans to sign this legislation with them in mind. The governor is committed to creating an adult-use cannabis market that bolsters our economy and directly benefits those that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs,” according to a statement from Moore spokesperson, Carter Elliott IV.
The recreational cannabis bill sets tax rates and outlines how cannabis revenue will be spent. It also requires medical dispensaries to pay a fee and convert their licenses to recreational dispensaries if they want to continue operating.
In February, Moore recused himself from a vote on a warehousing contract between the state and Under Armour because of his financial stake in the company. The governor’s chief of staff Fagan Harris told The Baltimore Banner that the plan was to get the blind trust finalized “in the near future.”
Moore has pledged to put all of his business interests and financial assets into a blind trust, an action requiring approval from the Maryland State Ethics Commission.
The new governor and first-time politician has an array of investments, ranging from his own organizations for promoting his books and developing productions to shares of stock in high-profile companies, some doing business in or with Maryland.
The ethics commission establishes the state’s ethics codes. Officials in all three branches must adhere to the rules, including the governor, to ensure there are no conflicts of interest between their personal finances and the business of running government.
Moore’s next ethics disclosure is due by April 30.
Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this story.