Judge sends dis­pen­sary suit to QA Cir­cuit Court

Record Observer - - NEWS - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­times@kibay­times.com

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.

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