MD: Monday Could Be Big For Medical Cannabis In Frederick County

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Frederick County’s Planning Commission voted this week to support the concept behind a bill that would let farmers grow medical cannabis in the county’s countryside – under certain conditions.

The bill to allow a pilot program for medical cannabis growers who applied for a state license before last year’s deadline is before the Frederick County Council for consideration. Some of the details are being tweaked, a county attorney said during the planning commission’s meeting Wednesday.

On Monday night, the County Council will hold a public hearing on the bill. Earlier that day, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is expected to announce the first 15 licenses for marijuana growers in the state.

Among those who hope to hear their name called Monday – then jump through whatever hoops are required by local licensing procedures – are Rahsaan Peak and Larry Gude.

Peak is chief executive officer of Botanical Bio-Discovery Of Maryland. The company has teamed up with Gude, whose family has farmed in Frederick County for more than 100 years.

They want to operate at Gude’s current greenhouse, which is in the county’s agricultural zone.

Councilwoman M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) introduced the bill that would create a pilot program for medical cannabis growers in the county’s agricultural zone – but only for those who applied for a state license before the November deadline.

The bill also would set lot sizes for medical cannabis operations and setback distances and require reports each year to the County Council. The pilot program will expire in eight years, unless the County Council extends it.

Security cameras, fencing, recorded video images of visitors and logbooks that visitors must sign all have to be in place wherever medical cannabis is grown, according to state law.

An earlier local bill required an armed guard, but that is not included in the new version.

Keegan-Ayer introduced the measure after a broader bill to permit medical cannabis in agricultural zones failed last winter.

This week, Peak, Gude and others urged the planning commission to support Keegan-Ayer’s new bill.

“It’s too important. It’s a burgeoning industry and it’s too important to the future. Too many people need this medicine,” said David Severn, an attorney who represents one of Gude’s neighbors. “… Frederick County agriculture should not be left out of the game on this.”

The planning commission voted 5-2 to support Keegan-Ayer’s bill “in concept.”

Some members said they wanted to see additional language to restrict medical cannabis growing to greenhouses and other agricultural buildings, require medical cannabis growers to be a certain distance from schools and day-care centers, and allow indoor medical marijuana facilities in the agricultural zone “by right” rather than through a special exception to the zoning ordinance.

The planning commission voted 7-0 to pass those recommendations to the County Council.

The council’s public hearing on the local bill is set for 7 p.m. at Winchester Hall.

The state received 146 grower license applications before last November’s deadline.

The LaPrade commission is expected to announce the first 15 pre-approvals for growers and processors on Monday. After stage one approval, the commission will perform extensive financial and background checks on everyone named in the applications.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Monday Could Be Big For Medical Cannabis In Frederick County
Author: Danielle E. Gaines
Contact: 301-662-1177
Photo Credit: John Woodcock
Website: The Frederick News Post