As the state of Maryland tries to initiate its medical marijuana industry, multiple lawsuits have been brought against the Maryland Medicinal Cannabis Commission (MMCC), one claiming that the board did not pursue racial diversity during the process, despite a state law requiring them to do so. Now, it appears one of the members who decides how cannabis grow licenses are awarded is a city police chief accused of overt racism.

Cheverly Police Chief Harry “Buddy” Robshaw III is the target of four lawsuits alleging his role in creating a hostile work environment, racist enforcement policies and sexual assault committed by himself and other officers on multiple occasions.

harry-robshaw-maryland

(NBC 4 photo)

The list of accusations against Robshaw is extensive. According to the wife of one former police officer, Robshaw sexually assaulted her at a social event. “The chief decided to go behind me, take a pool cue, bring it up inside my skirt between my legs,” said Donna Schmidt, wife of former police officer Frank Schmidt. Another former police officer witnessed the assault and filed an affidavit to support her lawsuit.

In another suit, officers claim Robshaw instructed police officers to target African American citizens for arrests, saying,

“if there is more than one black person in a car there is marijuana present and they should investigate.”

Other officers added that he instructed “his white officers that if they saw a black person outside late at night they were to stop the person and ascertain why they were in the town of Cheverly.”

Robshaw directs the subcommittee that decides how cannabis grow licenses are distributed through an approval process. The fact that there are pending lawsuits regarding a racist decision-making process, overseen by a chief of police that has been accused of multiple crimes further compounds the problems facing the state cannabis commission, not to mention the town of Cheverly.

Robshaw has accused all of the participants in the multiple lawsuits of lying. During a deposition, Frank Schmidt’s lawyer asked, “It’s your contention they’re all lying?” Robshaw responded, “That’s correct.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made an attempt to ensure diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry. After the board awarded licenses, it was discovered that the majority of businesses were white. The governor wrote to the commission, saying,

“As the issue of promoting diversity is of great importance to me and my administration, your office should begin this process immediately in order to ensure opportunities for minority participation in the industry.”

Lawsuits were later filed against the MMCC, and a judge recently ordered a halt to the licensing process “on the grounds that irreparable harm will result to plaintiff in the form of loss of ability, once all licenses are issued.”

Hogan’s pursuit of diversity is a response to the racist implications of the war on drugs, something that the lawsuits against Robshaw reinforce. According to a report by the ACLU, African Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession compared to a white person, even though there is little correlation between race and drug use.

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