Some residents claim they have had a tough time accessing updates on the planned opening of Baltimore’s 11 medical marijuana dispensaries.
After years of delays, Baltimore is set for a smooth launch of the city’s medical marijuana program. Well, maybe not so fast. Residents are complaining that info on the opening of 11 medical marijuana dispensaries has been difficult to come by.
Perhaps the City Council can clear things up tomorrow. A public meeting to discuss “the launching of upcoming medicinal marijuana dispensaries, their impact on local zoning and enforcement, and their impact on community master plans in Baltimore City” is scheduled for 1 p.m.
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke says some of her constituents are concerned about the dispensary openings.
“Basically they’re concerned about reports and academic studies that indicate that in other locations throughout the nation crime increases in surrounding neighborhoods to these locations,” Clarke said of residents of her district according to the Baltimore Sun. “This backs up to a residential neighborhood. Yes, it’s zoned commercial but there should be a process for community input for the location of these dispensaries.”
Dispensaries are treated like ordinary pharmacies when it comes to zoning in Baltimore. This means that dispensaries do not need to seek specific zoning approval making their expected locations hidden from the public until closer to opening.
“My main concern is the lack of transparency,” said Jack Boyson, president of the Wyman Park Community Association. “It appears some neighborhoods are going to be very surprised to find out they have medical marijuana dispensaries in their neighborhoods because it’s not being announced. There have been no hearings. There has been no input. There is no zoning criteria in place in terms of how far away they should be from residential areas, child care centers, parks, churches and schools.”
Alan Staple, owner of a proposed dispensary in Wyman Park, said he has spoken with Clark about her concerns.
“Although medical cannabis has been approved in many states, it’s new to Maryland and naturally people have many questions and some misconceptions,” he said in an email. “Dispensaries will be serving patients in need, who have been approved by their physicians, much like a pharmacy. There’s no reason to stigmatize patients that need medical cannabis. They are not criminals.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh seem interested in striking a balance. She said that she wanted access for patients but also wanted to address community concerns. “I think they have questions that deserve answers,” Pugh said of Baltimore residents. “I don’t want to see them backed up against communities and neighborhoods.”
“I think they have questions that deserve answers,” Pugh said of Baltimore residents. “I don’t want to see them backed up against communities and neighborhoods.”
Pugh wanted to see the dispensaries spread out evenly throughout Baltimore and may be concerned about distances patients have to travel.
“There are people in desperate need of this treatment,” she said. “I would not want people denied that kind of treatment.”