Maryland Governor Wes Moore is facing criticism for his nearly $1.2 million ownership of Green Thumb Industries (GTI) stocks, one of the leading cannabis operators in the United States. GTI operates in 13 states and has a significant presence in Maryland, where medical cannabis has been legal since 2014 and a limited adult-use program was launched in 2021.
According to state financial disclosure reports, Governor Moore’s investment in GTI was made through a blind trust, which means he has no control over the trust’s investments. However, critics are still questioning whether Moore’s investment creates a conflict of interest, particularly since he has the power to appoint members of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which regulates the state’s cannabis industry.
Governor Moore’s spokesperson has defended the investment, stating that it was made through a blind trust and that Moore has no control over the trust’s investments. The spokesperson also noted that Moore has been a vocal advocate for criminal justice reform and has taken steps to address racial disparities in the enforcement of drug laws.
While Maryland’s medical cannabis program has been operational for several years, the state’s adult-use program only recently launched. The program allows for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and permits home cultivation of up to six plants. The state has also established social equity programs to help those who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs to participate in the industry.
Moore’s investment in GTI has sparked debate about the propriety of politicians investing in the cannabis industry. As more states legalize cannabis, the issue of potential conflicts of interest is likely to arise more frequently. Experts suggest that transparency and disclosure are critical to addressing concerns about conflicts of interest, and that officials should recuse themselves from decision-making when conflicts arise.
Ethics experts also note that there are significant differences between the cannabis industry and other industries in terms of regulation, and that politicians need to be particularly cautious when investing in the sector. The cannabis industry remains illegal at the federal level, which means that state-regulated programs are subject to a patchwork of different rules and regulations. This makes investing in the industry particularly complex and risky, and requires careful consideration of potential conflicts of interest.
Despite these concerns, the cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, with more states legalizing medical and/or adult-use cannabis every year. This growth has led to a significant increase in investment, with both individual and institutional investors pouring money into the sector. While investment in the cannabis industry can be lucrative, it is also fraught with risk, particularly given the complex regulatory landscape.
Critics of Governor Moore’s investment argue that it is particularly problematic given his position as the state’s top elected official. They contend that his ownership of GTI stocks could create the appearance of impropriety, even if he has no control over the trust’s investments. Others, however, argue that as long as he has disclosed the investment as required by law, and has taken steps to address concerns about conflicts of interest, he has done nothing wrong.
Governor Wes Moore’s investment in Green Thumb Industries has stirred up controversy, with critics questioning whether his ownership of GTI stocks creates a conflict of interest. While Moore’s spokesperson has defended the investment, arguing that it was made through a blind trust and that Moore has no control over the trust’s investments, the issue of politicians investing in the cannabis industry remains a contentious one. As more states legalize cannabis, it is likely that this issue will continue to be debated, with transparency and disclosure seen as critical to addressing concerns about conflicts of interest.