Med­i­cal cannabis hear­ing held

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers have re­scinded Res­o­lu­tion 17-06 that charged the county’s Depart­ment of Plan­ning and Zon­ing to study doc­u­men­ta­tion, plans and stud­ies a med­i­cal cannabis com­pany sub­mits to the Mary­land Med­i­cal Cannabis Com­mis­sion to de­ter­mine its land use im­pli­ca­tions.

The res­o­lu­tion was with­drawn dur­ing a Tues­day,

March 28, county com­mis­sion meet­ing at the sug­ges­tion of the county’s at­tor­ney, County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd said. Todd said the rec­om­men­da­tion came be­cause the county is in­volved in a law­suit with Hip­po­cratic Growth LLC.

Com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives claimed dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing later in the meet­ing the county rushed through emergency zon­ing leg­is­la­tion to block it from oper­at­ing a med­i­cal cannabis fa­cil­ity in the county.

Be­cause the state passed leg­is­la­tion in May 2015 al­low­ing grow­ing, pro­cess­ing and dis­pens­ing of med­i­cal cannabis, even if a county was un­sup­port­ive of that ac­tion it “may be pro­hib­ited by State law from ban­ning them com­pletely,” the res­o­lu­tion stated. In De­cem­ber, the state is­sued pre-ap­proval no­tices to med­i­cal cannabis com­pa­nies, one of which wanted to move to Queen Anne’s County, it stated.

“The County Com­mis­sion­ers are un­able to fully as­sess the ef­fect of li­censed med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­cess­ing and dis­pens­ing fa­cil­i­ties upon the health, safety, and wel­fare of the Queen Anne’s County cit­i­zens with­out full ac­cess to com­pleted ap­pli­ca­tions for fi­nal li­cens­ing ap­proval,” the res­o­lu­tion stated.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, a pub­lic hear­ing was held re­gard­ing County Or­di­nance 17-06 that de­ter­mines zon­ing dis­tricts ap­pro­pri­ate for grow­ing, pro­cess­ing and dis­pens­ing med­i­cal cannabis as a con­di­tional use. The or­di­nance states no li­censed grow­ing and pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity can be within 1,000 feet of any institutional, school, church or mu­nic­i­pal us­age in mul­ti­ple zon­ing dis­tricts.

The or­di­nance, in­tro­duced on Jan 31, delves into con­di­tional uses, such as a li­censed dis­pen­sary shall not abut any prop­erty with res­i­den­tial us­age, as well as adds def­i­ni­tions to Chap­ter 18 of the Code of Pub­lic Lo­cal Laws.

Pa­trick Thomp­son, the county’s at­tor­ney, said the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion made a fa­vor­able rec­om­men­da­tion on the or­di­nance.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, Ash­ley Colen of Hip­po­cratic Growth said the pas­sage of this “pro­posed emergency leg­is­la­tion” was cre­ated to pre­vent one com­pany from mov­ing for­ward with its busi­ness in Grasonville, and said al­ter­na­tive op­tions in the area are not fis­cally vi­able be­cause of the amount of struc­tural work needed for se­cu­rity pur­poses, she said.

Colen said some land­lords were not will­ing to rent space “for fear of ret­ri­bu­tion from the com­mis­sion and/or plan­ning and zon­ing.”

An ac­cept­able lo­ca­tion for a Subox­one or methadone clinic, Colen said med­i­cal cannabis pa­tients are view un­fairly. “We should not stig­ma­tize the pa­tients who are suf­fer­ing and seek­ing al­ter­na­tive treat­ments, nor should we har­bor such an in­hos­pitable en­vi­ron­ment for po­ten­tial busi­nesses,” she said.

Colen said al­ter­ing leg­is­la­tion on a “pre­ma­ture and un­e­d­u­cated judg­ment based on stigma or un­sub­stan­ti­ated fears of recre­ational cannabis” was dan­ger­ous.

Paige Colen of Hip­po­cratic Growth said the com­mis­sion­ers had not done enough re­search on the sub­ject to ed­u­cate them­selves in the field of med­i­cal cannabis be­fore propos­ing the “emergency leg­is­la­tion.”

“In just the last 56 days,” ref­er­enc­ing the day count since the or­di­nance was pro­posed, “progress has been made on global, fed­eral and state lev­els,” she said.

Colen ref­er­enced the Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute’s Health divi­sion in a study that showed shrink­age of tu­mors and in­hibit­ing cell growth from med­i­cal cannabis use. She said the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­moved 25 fac­tu­ally inac­cu­rate state­ments from its web­site about cannabis, such as it be­ing a gate­way drug, use lead­ing to cog­ni­tive de­cline and lung can­cer, she said.

“When law­mak­ers and/ or law en­force­ment make de­ci­sions based on bi­ased and out of date in­for­ma­tion it does a tremen­dous dis­ser­vice to their com­mu­nity, and to know­ingly dis­sem­i­nate such in­for­ma­tion is a vi­o­la­tion of the In­for­ma­tion Qual­ity Act,” Colen said.

Paige Colen said the com­mis­sion had in­creased “fear­mon­ger­ing” and cre­ated an un­wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment for state-sanc­tioned busi­nesses.

“You stated at the meet­ing 56 days ago that you had not done the ap­pro­pri­ate amount of re­search be­fore propos­ing this emergency leg­is­la­tion,” she said. “If you don’t know what you’re ex­actly pro­tect­ing the peo­ple from, then how can you ef­fec­tively pro­tect them?”

Board of Ap­peals mem­ber Kenny Scott cau­tioned that some ar­eas of the or­di­nance were not clear re­gard­ing dis­tances. He said if the or­di­nance came be­fore his board the group would have to make de­ter­mi­na­tions on what the com­mis­sion’s thoughts were, such as does 1,000 feet from a school start from the prop­erty lines or from door to door.

To read Or­di­nance 17-06 in its en­tirety, vis­its www.qac. org and search “or­di­nances.”


Ash­ley Colen of Hip­po­cratic Growth LLC speaks out against pro­posed or­di­nance 17-06 dur­ing the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion meet­ing on Tues­day, March 28.

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