The Prince George’s County Council voted 5-3 Tuesday to allow a marijuana dispensary to operate in the county, permitting it to open 300 feet or farther from residential properties and at least 500 feet from schools, day care centers and parks.
The vote was not without controversy. Council Chairman Derrick Davis, Councilman Mel Franklin and councilwomen Deni Taveras, Andrea C. Harrison and Mary Lehman supported the measure, but fellow council members Todd Turner, Obie Patterson and Karen Toles voted against it.
“One of the problems addressed is there are landlords who do not want to rent this type of use,” said Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie. “We need to engage the state in this process.”
Although council Chairwoman Dannielle Glaros (D-District 3) of Riverdale Park attended Tuesday’s meeting in Upper Marlboro, she wasn’t in attendance for the vote.
State Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-District 47) of Cheverly was against dispensaries operating near schools, while Bridget Spruill, who plans to manage a dispensary in Bowie scheduled to open in February, said the industry remains focused on helping ill residents in the county.
The measure will allow a dispensary to open in Camp Springs, which has already met opposition from dozens of residents from that neighborhood who rallied Monday in front of the county administration building.
Many of them also showed up Tuesday with orange lanyards to show their displeasure with the council bill.
“Camp Springs does not need, or the majority of Camp Springs want this,” said Joy Alford, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 35 years. “It is a safety issue for our children and our elders. It’s a safety issue for everyone. The majority of people that might use this will not be from Camp Springs.”
The legislation has its backers, however. Crystal Hughes, owner of Allure Beauty Concierge in Camp Springs, supports medical cannabis so much she not only uses the product as a cream to rub on her back, she also received state approval to help register others who need it.
“This is something people need,” said Hughes, who resides in Baltimore and used a walker to move around. “People have to drive in D.C., Waldorf, or Baltimore to get [medical cannabis] from Camp Springs. Why not have it there?”
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, which approves companies to receive grower, processor and dispensary licenses, lists how cannabis helps those who suffer from ailments such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Besides the medical aspect, Taveras gave another reason in support of the legislation.
“We need to support our minority-owned business in this field,” she said. “We can at least get some redemption … in how we’ve been treated.”