Take Action to Stop County-Wide Dispensary Bans
| Geoffrey Marshall
As the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission moves forward with implementing the state’s safe access program, local governments in the state are considering the issue of zoning medical cannabis businesses. The Anne Arundel County Council is the only local government with current zoning legislation pending on medical cannabis businesses. ASA’s blog about the bill introduction explains the differences, but briefly, one would who impose relatively basic zoning requirements on medical cannabis businesses, while they other would completely ban all medical cannabis businesses from Anne Arundel County.
Banning medical cannabis dispensaries is harmful to patients because it forces them to make bad choices. If the ban were implemented, patients would have to choose between the extra time and expense of traveling out of county, turning to the black market, or foregoing their physician-recommended medical cannabis therapy.
While State Senator Bobby Zirkin and the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office have forcefully spoken out against county bans of medical cannabis businesses, it’s still possible that the ban could pass and go into effect. Patient advocates need to make sure that does not happen.
Additionally, patient advocates should inform the County Council not to impose needlessly restrictive zoning. ASA supports the alternative proposal, but is asking for improvements to ensure optimal patient access in the country.