The city of Baltimore, Maryland is preparing to open 11 medical cannabis dispensaries. In order to prepare residents for this, the city council has arranged to hold a meeting tomorrow, August 30, to answer questions and inform the community about the arrival of the new businesses.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the hearing will include “the launching of upcoming medicinal marijuana dispensaries, their impact on local zoning and enforcement and their impact on community master plans in Baltimore City.”
Councilmembers such as Mary Pat Clarke are preparing to assist residents in the transition and assure them that the dispensaries will be strictly regulated, and therefore won’t contribute to local crime. “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 stated in an interview with 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.”
Locals, such as Jack Boyson, who is also the president of the Wyman Park Community Association, is worried about how residents will react to these new dispensaries, claiming that many are unaware of what’s happening. “My main concern is the lack of transparency,” said Boyson. “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.”
However, some dispensary owners are going out of their way to meet with concerned citizens and speak about the services they will be offering the community. “Although medical cannabis has been approved in many states, it’s new to Maryland and naturally people have many questions and some misconceptions,” dispensary owner Alan Staple said in an email to Baltimore Sun. “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.”
While legal cannabis is new to Baltimore, success of the new dispensaries will rely heavily on dispensary owners who are willing to explain their value, as well as a helpful city council that genuinely wants to help smooth out any bumps in medical implementation.