The Maryland House of Delegates this past week censured one of its members for using his legislative position to influence the medical cannabis regulators in favor of his client for who he was a paid consultant. The 138-0 resolution was the result of Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics finding that the actions violated the spirit if not the letter of state ethics laws.
The issue surrounded the failure of the legislator to tell the General Assembly’s ethics advisor that he was appearing before the medical cannabis commission to advocate policy while, at the same time, advocate for his would-be dispensary client.
Maryland’s licensing process and procedures has already come under some scrutiny for its selection process. This may put a dark mark on this process even further. So why do potential licensees in other should states care about Maryland?
There is a valuable lesson to be learned here, especially in those states where using political consultants is the norm. If you use such a consultant, you want to be certain that you know the state laws regarding disclosure of such use.
At the same time, you need to know who employs the consultant. Using Maryland as the example, there would likely have been no censure if the legislator disclosed as the state ethics laws required. His failure to do so not only hurt him but potentially his client as well.
Using a political consultant is fine. Just look before you leap.