Judge sends dispensary suit to QA Circuit Court
CENTREVILLE — U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Motz dismissed a federal claim against Queen Anne’s County after a hearing April 13 in Baltimore. Hippocratic Growth and two other companies are suing the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners to allow a medical marijuana dispensary at 101 Drummer Drive, Grasonville.
The judge found the plaintiffs “did not have a property/vested right,” attorney Kevin Karpinski told County Administrator Gregg Todd and others in an email after the hearing.
“The Court also questioned whether a person could have a federal protected right in an activity which is prohibited under federal law,” Karpinski wrote.
The judge remanded the remaining state law claims for mandamus, declaratory judgment and a preliminary and permanent injunction to Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages from the county and paid to the plaintif fs, including Hippocratic Growth, another company which owns property, and an organization called 101 Drummer Drive.
The current owner of the Drummer Drive property is 111 Scherr Lane LLC, and that company has entered into a contract of sale with the company 101 Drummer Drive LLC, that, after owning the property, would lease it to Hippocratic Growth to operate the dispensar y.
Hippocratic Growth and the other plaintiffs originally filed the suit Feb. 2 in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, asking the court to instruct county government to “issue a written verification” that a medical marijuana dispensary is a permitted use in the Urban Commercial zoning district, which is where the dispensary is proposed.
Filing the lawsuit doesn’t stop the county from adopting amendments to the zoning ordinance to regulate marijuana facilities. As proposed by the amendments, a medical marijuana dispensary would be allowed in some zoning districts, but with restrictions.
In the case of the Grasonville proposed dispensary, it wouldn’t be allowed under the new regulations because the dispensary would fall within 100 feet of a residential dwelling and abuts an existing residential use, according to Michael Wisnosky, director of county Planning and Zoning.
This past December, the state marijuana commission notified Hippocratic Growth that it was awarded preliminary licensing approval and the commission’s one-year deadline to complete stage two licensing commenced, ending next December.
According to the lawsuit, Hippocratic Growth and the property owner where the dispensary is proposed have been harmed and the county is interfering with the implementation of the Maryland medical cannabis program authorized by state law.
Reporter Christopher Kersey also contributed to this report.