Will Ce­cil go green? Rx pot li­censes is­sued today

For­mer Sher­iff Jan­ney has stake in ap­pli­ca­tion

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— Today marks the day when Ce­cil County will find out whether its fu­ture will be green, ben­e­fit­ting eco­nom­i­cally from the de­vel­op­ment of po­ten­tial med­i­cal mar­i­juana grow­ing and pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Med­i­cal Cannabis Com­mis­sion, un­der the Maryland De­part­ment of

BAL­TI­MORE

Health and Men­tal Hy­giene, which was formed by 2014 leg­is­la­tion to de­velop poli­cies, pro­ce­dures and reg­u­la­tions to im­ple­ment the state’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram, voted on its stage one li­cense pre-ap­provals for 15 grow­ers and the first 15 pro­ces­sors on Aug. 5.

None of the ap­pli­cants to re­ceive the ground­break­ing ap­provals were pub­licly iden­ti­fied, how­ever, as those se­lected then un­der­went a strin­gent fi­nan­cial and le­gal back­ground check. This af­ter­noon, the com­mis­sion will pub­licly iden­tify those who will re­ceive the li­cens- es and kick­start a process of per­mit­ting and build­ing across the state for the win­ners.

While 15 grower and pro­ces­sor li­censes will be is­sued ini­tially, state law al­lows for only two to lo­cate in a sin­gle se­na­to­rial dis­trict, mean­ing Ce­cil County could have a po­ten­tial for four such op­er­a­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Post anal­y­sis of ap­pli­cants to the state com­mis­sion, at least three of the 144 grower ap­pli­cants have

specif­i­cally stated plans to lo­cate in Ce­cil County, in­clud­ing Ci­tiva Maryland LLC, led by a for­mer Syra­cuse, N.Y., po­lice chief who serves on a pre­scrip­tion drug abuse ad­vi­sory task force; LMS Well­ness BLLC, whose se­cu­rity di­rec­tor, King Wilson White Jr., was once a Bal­ti­more nar­cotics de­tec­tive; and Pharm­house LLC, whose chief ex­ec­u­tive Ro­han Mal­ho­tra is a for­mer Drexel law stu­dent.

Nu­mer­ous other ap­pli­cants did not spec­ify where they planned to lo­cate in the state, mean­ing Ce­cil County has a much big­ger po­ten­tial stake in the fi­nan­cial in­vest­ments by such op­er­a­tions. At least two ap­pli­cants that did not spec­ify — The Clinic Maryland LLC and Freestate Well­ness LLC — met with county lead­ers prior to sub­mit­ting their pa­per­work to dis­cuss pos­si­ble place­ments.

The Ce­cil County Coun­cil sent a generic let­ter to the state li­cens­ing com­mis­sion in­form­ing them the county has proper zon­ing in place for these op­er­a­tions and would wel­come them to the county. County of­fi­cials said the ap­pli­cants they met with in­cluded a mix­ture of lo­cal and out-of-state prospects with most seek­ing a fa­cil­ity that would grow and process med­i­cal mar­i­juana. They dis­cussed lo­ca­tions around

the county, es­ti­mated they could cre­ate be­tween 30 and 50 jobs and none asked for gov­ern­ment con­ces­sions.

The only county re­quire­ment in the process would be proper zon­ing. Growingonly op­er­a­tions can be lo­cated in agri­cul­ture zon­ing, but any pro­cess­ing plant must be in an in­dus­trial zone.

While Ce­cil County stands to gain much, some of its cit­i­zens are also in­volved in the process out­side of its bor­der. Chief among them may be for­mer Ce­cil County Sher­iff Barry Jan­ney, who is listed as the se­cu­rity head for True Health Ch­e­sa­peake LLC, an ap­pli­cant that looks to build a cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­ity near Jar­rettsville in Har­ford County.

Jan­ney chose not to seek re-elec­tion in 2014 af­ter serv­ing 12 years as sher­iff and is cur­rently the di­rec­tor of the Com­mu­nity Adult Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter, the Ce­cil County De­ten­tion Cen­ter’s work re­lease pro­gram.

On Fri­day, Jan­ney said he was ap­proached by mem­bers of the True Health Ch­e­sa­peake team last year. With 37 years of law en­force­ment ex­pe­ri­ence in the Maryland State Po­lice and Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, along with some time as a loss pre­ven­tion of­fi­cer as a side job, Jan­ney said he was ex­cited by the idea of a new chal­lenge.

“This team of in­vestors was putting their team to­gether and my name popped up, be­cause se­cu­rity plays a very im­por­tant role in this

ap­pli­ca­tion process,” he said, not­ing the ini­tial con­tact was made through Dan White­hurst, a for­mer Ce­cil County de­vel­oper for Clark Turner Homes and mem­ber of True Health Ch­e­sa­peake’s in­vest­ment team. “So I sent in a re­sume, and they called me in. They in­ter­viewed me and I in­ter­viewed them, be­cause I wanted to make sure it was done by the book, pro­fes­sion­ally. I walked away think­ing this was a top­notch team.”

Jan­ney, who ac­tively tes­ti­fied against the de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana as the county’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, said he re­mains against the le­gal­iza­tion of pot, but has come to rec­og­nize its ben­e­fits as a pre­scrip­tion drug.

“I’m not for recre­ational, but I do sup­port med­i­cal,” he said. “I knew peo­ple who were dy­ing of can­cer and this was some­thing they could have used to ease their pain. And there’s other in­stances where it can treat epilep­tic seizures in chil­dren.”

The fact that True Health Ch­e­sa­peake is led by de­vel­oper Joshua Dresher, whose fam­ily’s Dresher Fam­ily Birth­place in Bel Air was where Jan­ney’s grand­son was re­cently born, helped the for­mer sher­iff grow com­fort­able with be­com­ing at­tached to the project, he said.

“He’s an en­tre­pre­neur, a Chris­tian, just the kind of guy that you want to sit and lis­ten to,” Jan­ney said. “I made it very clear that be­cause these reg­u­la­tions are so strict that I won’t de­vi­ate from them. And he said that’s why he se­lected me be­cause he wanted it done by the book.”

Jan­ney said that he be­lieved the fact that the ap­pli­cants are Mary­lan­ders rather than out­siders helps their ap­pli­ca­tion.

“We live here and our fam­i­lies are here, so we want to make sure this is done right maybe more so than some­one com­ing in from Cal­i­for­nia,” he said. “A lot of the ap­pli­cants put in for ev­ery county and I think that sets the wrong tone for the com­mis­sion. We know what we want to do.”

Ce­cil County Sher­iff Scott Adams told the Whig last week that if True Health Ch­e­sa­peake re­ceives a li­cense and Jan­ney signs a con­tract to work with the com­pany, he would ask the CARC di­rec­tor to step down.

“He was aware that was the stip­u­la­tion go­ing in. I can’t tell him he can’t do that, but if he was go­ing to take that job than he would have to sever ties here,” Adams said.

As the an­nounce­ments ap­proached though, Jan­ney said he be­lieved his team had a good chance of suc­cess.

“I feel good about our chances,” he said. “I’m ex­cited be­cause I would be get­ting in on the ground floor of this in Maryland if we’re lucky enough to get a li­cense.”

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