Hip­po­cratic Growth talks about med­i­cal mar­i­juana

Record Observer - - News - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

CHESTERTOWN — Hip­po­cratic Growth LLC held an in­for­ma­tive meet­ing Feb. 22 at the Im­pe­rial Ho­tel in Chestertown pro­vid­ing at­ten­dees with a brief overview of the his­tory of med­i­cal mar­i­juana and how a dis­pen­sary might work.

The meet­ing was hosted by Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Ash­ley Herr, Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Paige Colen, Dr. Jaime Fleet­wood and at­tor­ney Steve Mee­han. About 20 peo­ple at­tended the meet­ing.

Hip­po­cratic Growth is one of 102 com­pa­nies ap­proved to dis­pense med­i­cal mar­i­juana within Mary­land. The com­pany, which is based out of the Ho­tel Im­pe­rial, is in the process of de­cid­ing where the dis­pen­sary will be lo­cated.

Herr said they want to set up the dis­pen­sary on Kent Is­land so it can be reached by the most peo­ple, but they are look­ing into other lo­ca­tions in Elk­ton and Bel Air.

Though their ideal lo­ca­tion would be in Gra­sonville, Queen Anne’s County is con­sid­er­ing chang­ing its zon­ing pre­vent­ing a dis­pen­sary at the site Hip­po­cratic Growth is con­sid­er­ing. Hip­po­cratic Growth is su­ing the county in fed­eral court.

Mee­han said they would not an­swer ques­tions on where the dis­pen­sary will be lo­cated dur­ing the meet­ing. He said where the dis­pen­sary will be lo­cated is a mat­ter of lit­i­ga­tion, and they will let it play out in the courts.

In the mean­time, Hip­po­cratic Growth will be pre­sent­ing a se­ries of in­for­ma­tive talks around the Up­per Shore. The first ses­sion gave an overview of the his­tory and uses of med­i­cal mar­i­juana be­fore open­ing the meet­ing up to the au­di­ence for ques­tions.

Herr said the se­ries will con­tinue with a more indepth look at the pa­tient reg­is­tra­tion process and pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion on dis­pen­saries. The next meet­ing will be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. March 18 at the Fish­er­man’s Inn in Gra­sonville.

Herr be­gan the meet­ing by giv­ing a brief his­tory of mar­i­juana’s cul­ti­va­tion dat­ing back to an­cient Egypt and China.

Colen went into more de­tail of mar­i­juana’s uses in the United States and how it de­vel­oped a stigma against its use as a form of medicine.

The ma­jor­ity of the meet­ing was con­ducted by Fleet­wood, the phar­ma­cist for Hip­po­cratic Growth. She ex­plained the med­i­cal ben­e­fits, side ef­fects and chem­i­cal com­po­nents that make up mar­i­juana for the au­di­ence.

The drug’s abil­ity to in­crease ap­petite, ease pain, re­duce anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion were some of the ben­e­fits Fleet­wood high­lighted.

Med­i­cal mar­i­juana as op­posed to the use of opi­oids to treat pain was an­other important pos­i­tive, Fleet­wood ex­plained. Be­cause the re­cep­tor in the brain for mar­i­juana is not lo­cated on the brain stem, users can­not over­dose the way they might while us­ing opi­oids.

Ad­di­tion­ally mar­i­juana does not re­act with the same chem­i­cal re­cep­tors and can­not cause res­pi­ra­tory func­tion to shut down, which is a ma­jor cause of death in opi­oid users, Fleet­wood said.

Fleet­wood said med­i­cal mar­i­juana can be viewed as a vi­ta­min or supplement in the body to treat a de­fi­ciency.

Fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, Hip­po­cratic Growth opened the floor to ques­tions from the au­di­ence.

The ma­jor­ity of the au­di­ence was open to the idea of med­i­cal mar­i­juana. Some in the crowd sought more in­for­ma­tion on how to get it.

One au­di­ence mem­ber stated she is tired of liv­ing with chronic pain and would like to have her doc­tor pre­scribe it for her.

Herr said the process be­gins with doc­tor en­roll­ment. The pa­tient must also en­roll, but med­i­cal mar­i­juana en­roll­ment for pa­tients is not open yet in Mar yland.

The doc­tor then writes a rec­om­men­da­tion for med­i­cal mar­i­juana, which the pa­tient will take to a dis­pen­sary. There, the pa­tient will speak with pa­tient ad­vi­sors, such as Fleet­wood, who will work with them to find the right fit, Colen said. Pa­tient ad­vi­sors must be a doc­tor, phar­ma­cist or physician as­sis­tant.

“Doc­tors are not taught this in med­i­cal school,” Fleet­wood said.

The pa­tient ad­vi­sor will work closely with pa­tients to find what type of med­i­cal mar­i­juana will ease their pain.

“It re­ally is in­di­vid­u­al­ized medicine,” Fleet­wood said.

Herr said the com­pany is avail­able to an­swer ques­tions about med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Con­tro­ver­sial plans to lo­cate a med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary in Gra­sonville will, in part, be the sub­ject of a pub­lic hear­ing the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers will have at 6:30 p.m. on Tues­day, March 28, at the county build­ing at 107 North Lib­erty Street, Cen­tre­ville.

In gen­eral, the pub­lic hear­ing was set by the com­mis­sion­ers for pub­lic com­ment on pro­posed amend­ments to the zon­ing or­di­nance, which reg­u­late where mar­i­juana grow­ing, pro­cess­ing and dis­pen­saries can be lo­cated in the county.

The most con­tro­ver­sial has been plan by the com­pany Hip­po­cratic Growth to lo­cate a mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary at 101 Drum­mer Drive, Gra­sonville.

If those zon­ing amend­ments are ap­proved, Hip­po­cratic Growth won’t be able to es­tab­lish that dis­pen­sary be­cause, ac­cord­ing to the reg­u­la­tions, it comes too close to pri­vate res­i­dences.

As for grow­ing mar­i­juana, the Mary­land Med­i­cal Cannabis Com­mis­sion hasn’t ap­proved the grow­ing for Queen Anne’s County.

The com­mis­sion has preap­proved mar­i­juana pro­cess­ing in the county, but the com­pany, Ch­e­sa­peake Al­ter­na­tives, plans to lo­cate it within the town lim­its of Cen­tre­ville, mean­ing the county has no ju­ris­dic­tion.

As pro­posed, the zon­ing amend­ments im­pose re­stric­tions on the lo­ca­tions of med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries. A dis­pen­sary can’t abut a prop­erty with a res­i­den­tial use, must be lo­cated at least 1,000 feet from any pub­lic or pri­vate church, day­care, school, or cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity.

Ad­di­tion­ally, a dis­pen­sary must be lo­cated on prop­erty at least 100 feet away from any res­i­den­tial dwelling, be lo­cated more than 2,500 feet from an­other dis­pen­sary, and can’t have an on-site doc­tor for the pur­pose of is­su­ing writ­ten cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

The reg­u­la­tions al­low the mar­i­juana fa­cil­i­ties as a con­di­tional use on prop­er­ties in cer­tain zon­ing dis­tricts as fol­lows:

• A mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary is al­lowed in the Gra­sonville gate­way and med­i­cal cen­ter dis­trict, but with re­stric­tions.

• Grow­ing mar­i­juana is al­lowed in the agri­cul­tural zon­ing dis­trict, but the use can’t be lo­cated within 1,000 feet of any in­sti­tu­tional use. If pro­posed in the crit­i­cal area, the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the prop­erty will be in­tensely de­vel­oped area.

• Mar­i­juana pro­cess­ing is al­lowed in the sub­ur­ban com­mer­cial dis­trict and the sub­ur­ban in­dus­trial dis­trict, but it can’t be 1,000 feet of any in­sti­tu­tional use. If pro­posed in the crit­i­cal area, the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the prop­erty will be in­tensely de­vel­oped area.

• Mar­i­juana pro­cess­ing is al­lowed in the light in­dus­trial high­way ser­vice dis­trict and sub­ur­ban in­dus­trial busi­ness em­ploy­ment dis­trict, but with re­stric­tions.

• In the ur­ban com­mer­cial dis­trict, a mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary and pro­cess­ing is al­lowed, but with re­stric­tions.

• In gen­eral, a mar­i­juana grower must be lo­cated on a prop­erty that’s at least 20 acres or more, must not be lo­cated within 1,000 feet of any pub­lic or pri­vate day­care or school. If pro­posed in the crit­i­cal area, the clas­si­fi­ca­tion will be in­tensely de­vel­oped area.

PHOTO BY LEANN SCHENKE

Ash­ley Herr, CEO of Hip­po­cratic Growth LLC, presents in­for­ma­tion on mar­i­juana dur­ing an in­for­ma­tive ses­sion Feb. 22 at the Ho­tel Im­pe­rial in Chestertown. Hip­po­cratic Growth seeks to open a med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary in Gra­sonville.

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