Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Cuches appeared at the Queen Anne’s County Commissioner’s Special Legislative Session on January 31, 2017 on behalf of State’s Attorney Lance Richardson. The session was held for the primary purpose of discussing potential zoning requirements for the growing, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana facilities. Medical marijuana was approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2014. Since that time, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has been formulating rules and regulations as well as issuing approvals and preapprovals for growers, processors and distributors. An application for growing marijuana in Queen Anne’s County was not awarded, but one application for processing and two pre-approvals of dispensaries in District 36 (QA, Kent, Caroline and part of Cecil) have been awarded.
The Commissioners introduced County Ordinance 17-06 which dictates where the growing, processing and dispensing of marijuana can be located in the County. This ordinance will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and then returned to the Commissioners for public hearing.
Mr. Cuches informed the Commissioners that the Office of the State’s Attorney opposes the legalization of Marijuana; however, Mr. Cuches continued, if it is to be permitted (or rather mandated by the State Legislature) in this County then it is the position of the Office of the State’s Attorney that any permitted facilities be located as far away as possible from residences, schools, churches, senior centers and other businesses. Despite the recent changes in the law regarding marijuana, the State’s Attorney’s Office continues to prosecute assaults, robberies, thefts and other criminal matters related to marijuana. The Office has also seen a rise in traffic stops made by law enforcement where it is observed that the driver has been smoking marijuana while operating the motor vehicle, thereby endangering the motoring public and pedestrians on the roadways. Not to mention some of these cases have minor children present inside the vehicle.
Mr Cuches added “one of our main fears of having dispensaries in our jurisdiction is the potential for burglaries, thefts and robberies at these dispensaries simply due to the product that is being dispensed. Some argue these dispensaries are just another local business, I would argue this isn’t your typical grocery store or restaurant”.