Sudlersville eyes regulations for marijuana operations
SUDLERSVILLE — The town’s Planning Commission is looking at options to regulate the placement of medical marijuana growing and processing sites within town limits.
On Wednesday, April 5, the issue came up during the town commissioners’ meeting during a report about the Planning Commission latest discussions. There is no proposal right now before the town government regarding sites for any medical marijuana operations, but the town wants to be proactive in case such a site is proposed in town limits, officials said.
Town Commissioner Ronald Ford, who is also president of the Planning Commission, asked if growing and processing medical marijuana sites would be allowed on the same property in the town. “That way, we can centralize it,” he said.
Also attending the commissioners’ meeting was Bunky Luffman, the governor office’s intergovernmental affairs Eastern Shore liaison. He said he thinks both medical marijuana operations on one site would be allowed, but he would have to check.
Commission President William H. Faust III said, during the public part of the meeting, said he didn’t want a marijuana dispensary in the town.
Ford said he would like to get the growing and processing operations within town limits because it would bring in revenue such as water and wastewater fees, and “maybe put a tax on it.” Ford also said he had “mixed emotions” about such operations coming to Sudlersville. “Government has shoved it down our throats. We might as well get benefits from it,” Ford said.
The town’s Planning Commission is “fact finding” right now about regulating medical operations, Faust said. When a lawsuit was filed against Queen Anne’s County about the issue, Sudlersville town officials decided to be more proactive about the issue, he said.
Ford said the planning board is looking at options, but the group needs to agree to it. There are five members of that board.
“After I thought about [the issue],” Ford said, “it’s here and we might as well do something in this part of the county. We got about 500 or 600 acres annexed into the town.”
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission hasn’t approved marijuana growing for Queen Anne’s County, according that agency. The commission has pre-approved marijuana processing in the county, but a company, Chesapeake Alternatives, plans to locate it within the town limits of Centreville, officials of that town confirmed earlier.
Two companies interesting in establishing marijuana dispensaries have been pre-approved for state Senatorial District 36, which includes Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.
One of those companies preapproved for a dispensary is PharmKent, which has publicly expressed an interest in locating a dispensary in Elkton.
The other company, Hippocratic Growth, is interested in locating a dispensary at 101 Drummer Drive in Grasonville. Hippocratic Growth recently filed a lawsuit against the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners after the county’s planning and zoning department proposed regulations that would rule out the Grasonville site because, under the proposed regulations, it would fall too close to residential properties.
The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. A hearing is scheduled before District Judge J. Frederick Motz in the afternoon of this Thursday, April 13, said Steve Meehan, principal of Hippocratic Growth.
“The purpose of the hearing is for the court to consider the county’s motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment, and to consider the plaintiff’s motion for a partial summar y judgment,” Meehan said in an email.
The lawsuit itself asks for $1 million in compensatory damages and the expense of the suit, all paid by the county. It also asks the court to order the county to issue a written verification that a medical cannabis dispensary is a permitted use in an urban commercial zoning district in Queen Anne’s County, and that Hippocratic Growth’s proposed dispensary location is property zoned.
Possibly having regulations for medical marijuana operations in Sudlersville came up during the Town Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, April 5. From left are Commissioners Constance Engrem, President William H. Faust III, Kevin Kerr and Ronald W. Ford.