Medical marijuana is legal here in Maryland, but it's up to each county to tackle the zoning issues that come along with the pot business. The state hasn't started handing out licenses to growers, processors and dispensaries, but Baltimore County lawmakers say they want to be ready and proactive.
It's a bill that passed unanimously in Baltimore County Council on September 8. The legislation paves the way for where medical marijuana can be grown, packaged and sold.
"I think we have given some certainty to our constituents, to the people who need the medical marijuana they'll be able to get it, and I think we've given certainty to the people who are investing in the process itself," said City Councilwoman Vicki Almond.
The rules now on the books are very specific. Medical pot growers and processors can only open up shop in certain industrial, manufacturing and agriculture areas of the county. While dispensaries will stay in the business areas and must be 500-feet from private and public elementary, middle and high schools
"We felt that was looking into the future because even though some people will say this will not lead to recreational marijuana, if it does, we want to make sure that these dispensaries are not near our schools," Almond said.
And the licenses aren't easy to get. There will only be 15 issued statewide to grow and process the medical marijuana. And the State Medical Cannabis Commission is proposing up to 94 licenses for dispensaries.
"So we're not talking a lot in Baltimore County and we're really not talking a lot throughout the state,” Almond said.
But there are still a lot of unknowns and questions. And not everyone is onboard with medical pot coming to Maryland.
"I don't like it at all,” said Timothy Elliot. “In my generation growing up, marijuana was normal and I saw how it affected people, and I just don’t think it's a good idea."
"It's good to be proactive rather than reactionary,” Wayne Sharpe said. “So getting all that in place is probably good planning on the part of County officials."