Judge rules in county’s favor on medical marijuana zoning
Judge rules in county’s favor
CENTREVILLE — In the case of Hippocratic Growth LLC versus the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners, Circuit County Judge Thomas P. Smith ruled June 21 in favor of the county.
Hippocratic Growth and two other companies had sued the commissioners to allow a medical marijuana dispensary at 101 Drummer Drive, Grasonville. A federal claim was dismissed after an April 13 hearing in Baltimore and the case remanded to Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court.
Smith ruled Ordinance 17-06, which restricts where medical cannabis facilities can be located, is valid; the county has no duty to verify that a medical cannabis dispensary is a permitted use in Urban Commercial Zoning District; the commissioners are not required to provide a letter stating it is a permitted use; and the county has no duty to issue the plaintiffs a building permit.
“The commissioners appreciate the court’s ruling as it re-enforces the county’s right to limit the location of specific business uses if they are deemed to be possibly detrimental to the health and welfare of a community,” said County Administrator Gregg Todd. “While medical cannabis is allowed by law, it is still the right and responsibility of local jurisdictions to make sure these facilities are properly located. The commissioners feel that County Ordinance 17-06 was the proper use of the county’s legislative authority and are happy that the court agrees.”
This past December, the state marijuana commission notified Hippocratic Growth that it was awarded preliminary licensing approval to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland Senate District 36, which includes Queen Anne’s County, and the commission’s one-year deadline to complete stage two licensing commenced, ending next December.
Hippocratic Growth had been in discussions with the county as to which zoning classifications a medical marijuana dispensary could be located and a site on Drummer Drive in Grasonville was discussed. The commissioners raised concerns about the proposed location and passed Ordinance 17-06 as emergency legislation. This legislation eliminated the Drummer Drive location for medical cannabis and was the impetus lawsuit.
The plaintiffs included Hippocratic Growth, 111 Scherr Lane LLC, which owns the property, and 101 Drummer Drive LLC, which planned to buy and then lease the property to Hippocratic Growth.
Smith stated, “COMAR, Chapter 27, Section 2 of the regulations entitled ‘Licensed Dispensary Premises, Premises Generally,’ provides inter alia ‘The premised and operations of a licensee shall conform to all local zoning and planning requirements.’ There is no express or implied preemption, and Ordinance 17-06 is valid and applies to the subject property.”
A judge has ruled Queen Anne’s County Ordinance 17-06 is valid, which means medical marijuana dispensary is not a permitted use for 101 Drummer Drive in Grasonville.