After a three-week delay, the Anne Arundel County Council will again take up legislation Monday prohibiting variances for medical marijuana projects in north county.
The bill prohibits granting variances for special requirements on projects above Route 50 or east of the South River. This partitions the Annapolis portion of the county as well as north county. Councilman Jerry Walker, R-Crofton, requested the bill be delayed as he reviewed a map detailing parcels of land for medical marijuana projects.
Walker is concerned about the bill greatly limiting availability. He said he will put forth an amendment to tweak the bill but he declined last week to give details. Medical marijuana facilities must be built in assigned senatorial districts.
“Essentially there are almost no parcels in the county that qualify,” Walker said. “We basically eliminated 99.9 percent of the county.”
If the legislation is passed Monday, it would mean medical marijuana developers will have to find properties that meet all of the county’s requirements, a bar developers have called too burdensome. When they do find properties satisfying the requirements, the land may not be for sale.
Supporters of the requirements say it will protect their communities from traffic. Others support medical marijuana while also asking the county to deny the application within their neighborhood.
The requirements include 1,000-foot distances from homes, residential property lines, Board of Education properties as well as placement along highly trafficked roads. Maryland lawmakers thought the requirements were so strict they considered adding a “relief clause.” It would allow developers — licensed by the state — to build elsewhere if they can’t meet an area’s demands. The state gives licenses to potential businesses but requires building within a set senatorial district.
Prohibiting the variances is the result of County Executive Steve Schuh’s frustration with the former administrative hearing officer Doug Hollmann granting variances to four dispensaries in north county. Schuh has said granting the variances violated the compromise between the County Council and himself, who wanted to ban medial marijuana outright. The former administrative hearing officer said he was fired because of the medical marijuana decisions. Schuh has declined to elaborate on his departure.