Baltimore residents are preparing mentally for medical cannabis dispensaries that are setting up shop throughout the city. There is some research that crime can increase around cannabis dispensaries and so keeping locations away from residential communities is one of their concerns.
Cannabis dispensaries have been robbed before and one of the reasons for the outlets getting targeted is that it is common knowledge a lot of them keep cash on their premises because they cannot find a bank to deposit their revenue. Do you believe that if the businesses could do a better job of securing their capital, that the crime rate on cannabis dispensaries would go down?
As Baltimore prepares for the opening of 11 medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, some residents say it’s been difficult to get information about where they’re opening or how the sites were selected.
The Baltimore City Council plans to hold a hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday to get details about “the launching of upcoming medicinal marijuana dispensaries, their impact on local zoning and enforcement, and their impact on community master plans in Baltimore City.”
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she called for the hearing after members of her district expressed concerns about a dispensary scheduled to open in the 3300 block of Keswick Road in Wyman Park.
“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. “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.”
While the Baltimore County Council has set zoning rules that will govern where medical marijuana businesses can open, Baltimore City officials have chosen to simply treat the marijuana facilities like pharmacies under the zoning code — and not pass special legislation for them. That means that a medical marijuana facility approved by the state doesn’t need to get zoning approval from the city to open.
“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 the proposed dispensary in Wyman Park, said he’s met with Clarke and the local residents. He said he’s working on a memorandum of understanding to address their 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.”
Maryland’s medical marijuana regulators approved final licenses for eight growing companies on Monday, allowing them to start cultivating the drug.
Several companies said they are ready to begin growing immediately, while others say they will take weeks to get started.
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