Private Consultant Discusses Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Application Process

A September 29 Center Maryland video blog post featured GTI-Maryland Regulatory Compliance Advisor Bob Morgan discussing Maryland’s medical cannabis application process and how Maryland’s cannabis regulations compare to those of other states.  From the video’s description:

Bob Morgan, GTI-Maryland advisor and former Statewide Project Coordinator of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, provides an overview of the nation’s developing medical cannabis industry. He is a passionate advocate and consultant for businesses and patients. Maryland has begun to implement a robust, comprehensive state medical cannabis law that will bring relief to patients suffering with debilitating illnesses and provide economic stimulus to communities throughout Maryland. Applicants for various cannabis related licenses will go through a rigorous process to ensure that only the best qualified applicants attain licenses.

Baltimore Sun Assesses Anne Arundel County Medical Cannabis Debate

The Baltimore Sun has opined on Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh’s proposed ban on the growing, processing and dispensing of medical cannabis in the County and what it means for local autonomy.

The editorial reads:

The state has approved medical marijuana, with the latest legislation signed this year by Gov. Larry Hogan. But the state also left it up to local jurisdictions, through zoning codes and planning regulations, to decide how far they will wade into this particular stream.

Other jurisdictions are facing the same decision, and at least some — including generally conservative places that see a chance to help farmers or generate processing-plant jobs — will say yes. And as a deputy county health officer here noted recently, “There are no borders that function as walls between counties.”

The Anne Arundel proposal has attracted attention from state officials as well. A separate article in The Baltimore Sun reports:

[Senator Bobby] Zirkin told The Capital in an interview he intends to draft legislation during next year’s General Assembly that would prohibit local jurisdictions from banning medical marijuana or creating an “undue burden” on making it available under planning and zoning laws.

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena, said Schuh’s proposal put him in the “unusual position” of disagreeing with his friend and close political ally. Kipke along with the rest of the Anne Arundel County delegation voted in favor of the latest version of the medical marijuana bill that passed the General Assembly this year.

But Kipke said he was unlikely to support Zirkin’s proposal if it made its way to his chambers because planning and zoning laws should be left up to local authorities.

For more information:

Our say: Schuh on medical marijuana: Just say no (The Baltimore Sun)

State senator slams Schuh medical marijuana proposal (The Baltimore Sun)

Anne Arundel County Executive Proposes Bill to Ban Medical Marijuana (Conduit Street)

Peer Review Offered as Approach to Expedite State Permit Processes

The Regulatory Reform Commission created by Governor Hogan in July held its second regional meeting yesterday in College Park to solicit input from local officials and others to identify specific regulations that negatively affect Maryland’s business environment. Individuals speaking included local economic development officials, trade associations, small business owners, engineers, and architects.

An article in the Daily Record (subscription required) highlights some of the turf issues between licensed architects and engineers.  It also describes recommendations offered to automate the process for providing reports to the Comptroller’s Office and streamlining reporting requirements.

Brad Frome, Assistant Deputy Administrative Officer for Economic Development and Public Infrastructure, shared the success of a peer review process established by the county to expedite the review of permits. He also discussed the need to review and streamline the access permit process carried out by the State Highway Administration (SHA). SHA has already taken steps to improve this process.

The Commission, which is being overseen by Lt. Governor Rutherford, plans to hold four more meetings between now and October 13. The Commission will remain in effect for three years and provide annual reports to the Governor by December 1 each year.

Information on the Regulatory Reform Commission, including members, meeting schedule, and the executive order, can be found on the Lt. Governor’s website. Comments and recommendations can also be submitted through the website.

For more information on its creation see the previous post on Conduit Street titled “Governor Hogan Creates Regulatory Reform Commission.”

Kent County Commissioners Ponder Affordable Housing Concerns Raised By Sprinkler Mandate

A September 16, 2015, MyEasternShoreMD article reported that Kent County Commissioners are weighing the positive public safety benefits of fire sprinklers against the potential challenge sprinklers pose to affordable housing in rural areas of the state.

Commission President William Pickrum said a key to creating affordable housing would be elimination of the requirement for residential sprinkler systems. He said they can add as much as $40,000 to the cost of a new house.

Commissioner Bill Short said the requirement had radically reduced housing starts in other Eastern Shore jurisdictions.

Both commissioners were echoing a common theme at the Maryland Association of Counties meeting earlier that month. Officials from several counties criticized a requirement of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to install automatic fire sprinklers in new townhouses and one- and two-family dwellings, as provided by the 2015 International Residential Code.

The article also noted that while homebuilders also expressed concerns about the effect of the sprinkler mandate on rural affordable housing, State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci continues to support the requirement:

“In a recent study done in Caroline County for a home at 2,000 square foot the cost for the system was roughly $6,000,” Geraci wrote.

Geraci went on to put the costs in a larger perspective. “That would add about $30 to the 30-year mortgage and having the sprinkler system it would save the homeowner about $200 a year on his insurance policy. In the end it comes out to about $160 over the life of the loan,” he wrote.

“I can tell you that there has not been a single fire death in a sprinklered home or building in the State of Maryland,” Geraci wrote.

The article also covered an analysis by Kent County Director of Planning Amy Moredock indicating that effect of the sprinkler mandate on the number of residential building permits in the County remains unclear but that when the sprinkler mandate is combined with a State requirement to use best available nitrogen removal technology (BAT) septic systems, it may place a difficult burden on new home buyers.

Calvert County Commissioners Raise Concerns Over State Cost Shifting

On September 15, 2015, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners sent a letter to Maryland Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller Jr. and other Calvert County state legislators outlining concerns over the State shifting budgetary burdens onto local governments through legislative and regulatory changes. From the letter:

We are elected to serve the citizens of Calvert County.  One of our chief duties is to ensure that government is run in an efficient, cost-effective manner, making the best use of our local tax dollars for local priorities.  However, we have found ourselves time and again embroiled in local requests for additional funds and/or staff to address shortfalls in areas that are part of the traditional scope of State funding.  In effect, the State is creating an ad-hoc category in our local budget, and it is one we have no ability to constrain or control.

The letter cited multiple examples of cost shifting or new legislative burdens, including: (1) State funding cuts and pension cost shifting for local health departments; (2) local implementation of the State’s Watershed Implementation Plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay; (3) diversion of local highway user revenues; (4) local implementation of new stormwater management requirements; (5) new land use mandates such as comprehensive plan elements, growth tiers, and septic system restrictions; and (6) the shifting of teacher pension costs from the State to county governments. The letter concluded by requesting that the State work with local jurisdictions to address these cost and burden-shifting concerns:

We believe it is time for the State to acknowledge the budgetary impact of all of its decisions on [our] local economy and work with us to determine what steps can be taken to preserve the ability of local jurisdictions to spend local tax dollars on local priorities and projects.

Anne Arundel County Executive’s Medical Cannabis Ban Faces County Council Uncertainty

Earlier this week Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh announced he is proposing a bill to ban the growing, processing and dispensing medical cannabis in the county. However, some Anne Arundel County Council Members have expressed uncertainty or concerns about the proposed measure. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Three council members said his proposal goes too far and some may suggest alternatives. Two said they were uncertain which way they would vote, and one would not offer a stance on the bill or the issue as a whole. The seventh remains an outlier — he did not return a message seeking comment.

The proposal is poised to be introduced to the seven-member legislative body at its Sept. 21 meeting. It is expected to begin debating the bill next month, and four votes are needed for passage.

The article included comments from some of the county council members:

Chris Trumbauer, D-Annapolis, said he thought Schuh’s bill was the “wrong approach,” and is considering legislation that would regulate where medical marijuana businesses could be located.

“I generally support medical marijuana if a doctor is going to prescribe that to a patient,” Trumbauer said. “At that point its medicine.”

Councilman Andrew Pruski, D-Gambrills, said he was shocked to learn of Schuh’s proposal and said the county executive shouldn’t move so fast in proposing such sweeping legislation.

“I don’t want to completely shut the door,” Pruski said. “There could probably be a happy medium.”

Council Chairman Jerry Walker, R-Crofton, said he opposed Schuh’s bill as it stands in part because there are farmers in the rural part of his district who expressed interest in growing medical marijuana as an way of keeping their businesses viable.


Councilman John Grasso, R-Glen Burnie, said he was “torn” over Schuh’s proposal. Grasso said he knows people who said they felt the positive effects of medical marijuana over other prescription medication.

Still, Grasso said he held on to the old notion of marijuana being a gateway drug that young people ought not to try.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun and previous coverage on Conduit Street.

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The Maryland Department of Planning’s e-newsletter “Maryland Planning Today” is available for a free email-based subscription. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the MDP offering rounds up news items from around the state and country — many issues dealing with land use and preservation issues, but many other community issues from our region.

Conduit Street offers a large hat/tip to our friends at MDP for their newsletter, and we urge our own readers and followers to check out the MDP newsletter.

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Anne Arundel County Executive Proposes Bill to Ban Medical Marijuana

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh is proposing a bill to ban the growing, processing and dispensing medical marijuana in the County. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The bill would prohibit cultivating and selling medical marijuana under the county’s farming and pharmacy provisions, according to a draft of the bill provided by the administration. A state measure allows local jurisdictions to decide how to implement the medical marijuana law through planning and zoning codes, in which farms and pharmacies fall.

Under Anne Arundel County code, growing and processing medical marijuana is allowed under the county’s farming provisions — or pretty much anywhere.

The bill Schuh is set to announce Monday would eliminate the processing and sale of marijuana on many levels, including removing marijuana from the county’s farming provision and prohibiting the processing and sale of marijuana in commercial, industrial, maritime and residential districts.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.

Still Time To Register For Takings Conference

Takings Conference 2015

The 18th Annual Conference on Litigating Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Vermont Law School is holding a conference on litigation raising takings challenges based on land use and environmental regulations on September 25, 2015.  The one-day conference will be held at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore.  Overnight accommodations are available and CLE credits will be offered (accreditation currently pending). MACo is a co-sponsor of the conference.

For further information about the conference and how to register, please click here.



Baltimore County Council Passes Medical Cannabis Zoning Bill

A September 8 Baltimore Sun article reported that the Baltimore County Council passed zoning requirements for medical cannabis growing and processing facilities and dispensaries.  While all counties are considering how to site and zone for medical cannabis facilities, Baltimore County is the first to specifically enact legislation.  Councilwoman Vicki Almond was the bill’s primary sponsor and Councilman Todd Crandell was a co-sponsor. From the article:

Medical marijuana growing and processing facilities will be allowed in industrial districts, although in the Chesapeake Enterprise Zone – a commercial and industrial district in the eastern part of the county – a grower must obtain approval of a special exception, which can be granted by an administrative judge after a public hearing.

The growing and processing facilities also would be allowed in certain rural zones. In the agricultural zone, the facilities would be allowed without extra approval. In the resource preservation and environmental enhancement zones, the facilities would be allowed with a special exception.

Medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in business districts, provided they are 500 feet away from schools and 2,500 feet from one another. However, to locate in one of the county’s commercial revitalization districts, the business must get a special exception. The county’s 17 commercial revitalization districts are located in older commercial districts where the county is trying to spur improvements and new businesses.

The article also included comments in the article by both bill sponsors and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz:

“This council is to be commended for doing what is was elected to do, and in my opinion, doing it very well under difficult circumstances that have been thrust on us by forces outside of our control,” [Almond] said.

[Crandell], a Dundalk Republican, co-sponsored some of the changes that require the special exception approval. He noted that the county is wading into “unknown territory.” …

[Kamenetz] has said he doesn’t believe the zoning bill is necessary, but has praised the council “for taking its responsibility very seriously.”

Baltimore County Council Bill 61-15 Zoning Regulations – Medical Cannabis