Town dis­cusses med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — The Cen­tre­ville Town Coun­cil heard Aug. 17 from com­mu­nity mem­bers and dis­cussed pro­posed amend­ments re­gard­ing zon­ing or­di­nances that would ap­ply to med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries op­er­at­ing in town lim­its.

The town was ap­proached by Hip­po­cratic Growth to place a dis­pen­sary in the med­i­cal park ad­ja­cent to the Food Lion shop­ping cen­ter on Route 213. A Wal­greens phar­macy is cur­rently op­er­at­ing at one end of the shop­ping cen­ter.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Tim Mc­Cluskey said the town at­tor­ney has ad­vised them the town can­not pro­hibit the use or place­ment of a med­i­cal mar­i­juana fa­cil­ity as per the di­rec­tion of the Mary­land At­tor­ney Gen­eral. Lo­cal gov­ern­ment how­ever can take into con­sid­er­a­tion the ap­pro­pri­ate zon­ing and en­sure that the ap­pli­cant and lo­ca­tion choice fall within the des­ig­nated zon­ing ar­eas and re­quire­ments.

Res­i­dent Peter Schafer, pres­i­dent of the Providence Farm Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, asked the coun­cil, “Why do we need [a mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary] here? Will it be good or bad for the town?”

An­other res­i­dent said as a mother she was firmly op­posed to a dis­pen­sary in Cen­tre­ville. She said she feared that with mar­i­juana le­gal­ized for med­i­cal use or oth­er­wise that had less of a stigma and youth would be more likely to find it ac­cept­able to use.

The coun­cil­men al­lowed cit­i­zens three min­utes each to speak.

Ash­ley Herr of Kingstown, who is Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer for Hip­po­cratic Growth, said she be­lieved the lo­ca­tion they were in­tend­ing to use was very ap­pro­pri­ate, given they were in a park des­ig­nated for med­i­cal of­fice build­ings and that they would be con­duct­ing busi­ness dur­ing stan­dard busi­ness hours. The dis­pen­sary it­self would not be open to the gen­eral pub­lic, only those with a writ­ten

pre­scrip­tion from a li­censed prac­ti­tioner, she said.

Herr said they would have a ver y high level of se­cu­rity and have fol­lowed all the li­cens­ing re­quire­ments as set forth by the state of Mary­land. Herr im­plored the coun­cil not to de­lay their de­ci­sion mak­ing. “Peo­ple need this [dis­pen­sary] now,” she said.

County res­i­dent Re­becca Fletcher is re­tired from the United States Ma­rine Corp and an am­putee. Fletcher said she drives two hours to Wal­ter Reed Na­tional Mil­i­tary Med­i­cal Cen­ter when she could be get­ting med­i­ca­tion from so much closer to home. Re­stric­tions on opi­oids — which Fletcher

said she rec­og­nizes to be nec­es­sary — pro­hibit her from get­ting treat­ment at the emer­gency room when her pain is un­man­age­able.

“You talk about help­ing the com­mu­nity,” said Fletcher. “I am part of this com­mu­nity.”

Fletcher said she re­al­izes med­i­cal mar­i­juana won’t make her leg grow back; it is not a cure, she re­it­er­ated, but it will help her with the pain from where her leg no longer is. She said she is not in fa­vor of recre­ational use of mar­i­juana.

Paige Colen, Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer for Hip­po­cratic Growth, said their dis­pen­sar y could be looked at as a nat­u­ral phar­macy and reg­u­lated as such. Asd a ben­e­fit to pa­tients, the zon­ing for the med­i­cal park seemed most ap­pro­pri­ate place for the dis­pen­sary to be lo­cated.

Sev­eral other cit­i­zens spoke in fa­vor of the town’s con­sid­er­a­tion for the place­ment of the dis­pen­sary in Cen­tre­ville. Ac­ces­si­bil­ity to pa­tients on the Shore was a re­cur­ring theme.

Chris Park told the coun­cil, “If you are on the fence ... give it an­other look. (A dis­pen­sary) re­ally can make a dif­fer­ence for a lot of peo­ple.”

Coun­cil­man Jim Beauchamp said they would re­view the lan­guage in the cur­rent zon­ing or­di­nance and re­view the dis­tance from res­i­dences, churches and schools. The coun­cil agreed the pro­posed lo­ca­tion by Hip­po­cratic Growth is the most ideal lo­ca­tion in town lim­its. Sin­gle fam­ily homes are not per­mit­ted in that par­tic­u­lar zone and the homes at Sym­phony Vil­lage and across Route 213 are hun­dreds of feet

away from the zone’s perime­ter.

“The pro­posed lo­ca­tion is as prob­a­bly as good as its go­ing to get,” Beauchamp said.

“We as a coun­cil can’t say they can’t bring dis­pen­saries in this town,” said coun­cil mem­ber Jeff Mor­gan, “We can make sure that res­i­den­tial ar­eas are not af­fected.”

The coun­cil agreed to hold a work ses­sion to fur­ther dis­cuss the zon­ing reg­u­la­tions on Sept. 7. Their rec­om­men­da­tions will be re­ferred to the town Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Sept. 20 and a pub­lic hear­ing will be held on Sept. 21.

The town also heard from Cam­bio WiFi, a LTE wire­less broad­band in­ter­net ser­vice, in­ter­ested in us­ing the top of wa­ter tow­ers to di­rect wire­less sig­nals to area res­i­dences.

The ser­vice is “su­per fast” said Cam­bio rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tay­lor But­ter­worth, and “the next best thing to fiber op­tic.”

Sig­nal is best served by di­rect line of sight or near line of sight, said But­ter­worth.

Cam­bio would of­fer the town 3 per­cent of their gross rev­enues. Mc­Cluskey asked that Cam­bio sub­mit a writ­ten pro­posal to the town.

In other busi­ness, the town will con­sider char­ter amend­ments to Res­o­lu­tions 12-2017 through 15-2017 re­gard­ing the ex­pi­ra­tion date of terms of coun­cil mem­bers, new date for coun­cil elec­tion, dead­line to file a nom­i­na­tion, and stan­dard hours of elec­tions. If the pro­posed changes were passed, they would ex­tend the term of coun­cil mem­bers six months past their cur­rent terms and the next elec­tion would be held in Oc­to­ber of this year.

PHOTO BY HAN­NAH COMBS

Vet­eran Re­becca Fletcher, fore­ground, speaks to the Cen­tre­ville Town Coun­cil in sup­port of a med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary. Fletcher said she had ex­hausted many other med­i­cal op­tions for treat­ment of con­di­tions ren­dered by the loss of her leg. Back­ground, Coun­cil­men Jim Beauchamp, Tim Mc­Cluskey and Jeff Mor­gan.

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