Frederick County Council Approves Legislation Allowing Cannabis Facilities

Under the regulations, growing, processing and dispensing facilities only are permitted.

Frederick, Md (KM) In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Frederick County Council approved a bill governing the growing, processing and dispensing of cannabis. The legislation was sponsored by Council President Brad Young on behalf of County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. “I was a ‘no’ on the legalization of marijuana,” says Young. “However, since I was in the failing number of that, and it’s now passed and it’s legal in the state of Maryland, the County has a responsibility to update our zoning ordinances to comply.”

Echoing those comments was Councilman  Mason Carter. “I’ll join President Young in saying I was in the minority in that vote. But coming down from the state, I think they [the county staff} did a good job with what  we were dealt,” he said.

Councilman Steve McKay says he too was against legalizing cannabis. “I came before the first Council when they were considering an aspect of all this medical marijuana and whether it was appropriate in the ag zone, and I came out saying ‘no’ to that too,” he said. “But that view didn’t prevail with a majority of the citizens in the state for better or worse.”

But McKay praised the work the county staff did on the bill.

Under the legislation, growing, processing and dispensing cannabis are allowed. On-site consumption facilities are prohibited.

The legislation also doesn’t  permit growing facilities in areas zoned agriculture. It also says there shall be a 1,500-foot buffer between dispensaries and existing parks, schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, childcare centers, and family childcare homes There’s also a 1,500-foot buffer between cannabis dispensaries and property owned by the County, the Board of Education, or any property identified in the Comprehensive Plan as a future school, library, recreation center, park or similar use intended for the public purpose in the future.

“I know some people have said ‘just say no.’  You shouldn’t allow this at all;  stand up. We have no choice in this,” said Councilman  Jerry Donald. “The State of Maryland gave us a set of rules to live by with this.,  and we couldn’t vary from it. So staff did the best they could to go along with the set of rules we were given how we’ll handle it in Frederick County. There’s not a whole lot of choice here.”

By Kevin McManus