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Licensing & Eligibility


The Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) is charged with administering the application for Social Equity cannabis licenses.

The Cannabis Reform Act establishes at least two separate rounds of licensing. The first round is scheduled to be held in the fall of 2023, with the second round after May 1, 2024. 

Since the enactment of the Cannabis Reform Act, the MCA has conducted outreach and educational sessions to provide interested individuals and businesses with information on the application process and requirements and connect potential applicants with industry experts to learn more about the cannabis industry. 

MCA and OSE will jointly plan additional outreach and educational sessions in the months ahead targeting prospective and verified social equity applicants as part of the broad technical assistance package that will be offered for the Fall 2023 licensing application round.

  • To learn more about currently scheduled outreach and educational events, click here.
  • The MCA opened the Social Equity Verification Portal on September 8, to allow individuals to confirm their eligibility as a social equity applicant prior to the beginning of the licensing round. The portal will be open for a period of 60 days, closing on November 7. To request a link to this portal from the MCA, click here to submit your contact information.
  • Click here for additional information on the anticipated timeline for the new adult-use cannabis licensing process.


The Cannabis Reform Act charges the Office of Social Equity with publishing the social equity applicant eligibility criteria for the Fall 2023 licensing application round. Maryland is putting forward the first round of applications exclusively for social equity applicants.

The law defines an eligible social equity applicant as having at least 65% ownership and control held by one or more individuals who:

  • Criteria 1: Has lived in a disproportionately impacted area* for at least 5 of the last 10 years immediately preceding the submission of the application; or
  • Criteria 2: Attended a public school in a disproportionately impacted area for at least 5 years; or
  • Criteria 3: For at least two years, attended a four-year institution of higher education in the State where at least 40% of the individuals who attended the institution of higher education received a Pell Grant.
*The law defines “disproportionately impacted area” as a geographic area identified by the Office of Social Equity that had above 150% of the State’s 10-year average for cannabis possession charges.

Social Equity Applicant Eligibility Criteria

The Office of Social Equity has collected, evaluated, and published the following criteria to be considered as a social equity applicant. An applicant must meet one of the following criteria and owns and controls at least 65% of the business:

Criteria 1: Disproportionately Impacted Area Zip Codes
Using data from the Maryland Judiciary, the Office of Social Equity conducted a 10-year analysis to determine that these zip codes (English | Spanish​) meet the statutory definition of a disproportionately impacted area. 

Criteria 2: Public School Attendance in a Disproportionately Impacted Area
Using data from the Maryland State Department of Education, the Office of Social Equity conducted an analysis to determine that these public schools (English | Spanish​) are located in disproportionately impacted areas in the State.

Criteria 3: Higher Education Institution Attendance
Using data from the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the Office of Social Equity determined that these 4-year institutions of higher education (English | Spanish​) meet the statutory requirements for this criteria.

Disproportionately Impacted Area​​

Note: This map is a living document. The Office of Social Equity is working to ensure this is a complete and comprehensive tool for prospective applicants to use. However, closed schools, schools that have relocated, or other changes or challenges in identifying a school's physical address may result in public schools not being represented here that may qualify. Additionally, appearance on this map does not guarantee a school's eligibility. All prospective applicants' social equity status is subject to verification by the MCA's third-party verification processor. We would encourage individuals who believe their school is in a disproportionately impacted area, regardless of its appearance on this map, engage with the Social Equity Verification process to confirm their eligibility.