Sudlersville eyes reg­u­la­tions for mar­i­juana op­er­a­tions

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTOPHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

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.

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER KERSEY

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.

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