Town discusses medical marijuana dispensary
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.
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.