Despite public opposition in some areas, the Prince Georges County Council approved a measure that will allow dispensaries to open in the county.Since the Maryland General Assembly approved the state’s Medical Marijuana program in 2014, the medicalization movement has stalled as attempts to block licensing and growing permits have prevented the program’s start. However, in recent months, grower’s license and permit issues have slowly started to unravel, and the program is set to begin in February. Currently, roughly 100 dispensaries have received licenses but now must set up dispensary locations, pass inspections and background checks before a December deadline. Of the 100 companies that have been granted licenses, the SENTEL group is one that is attempting to open what is likely to be the first Prince Georges County location. The County Council passed zoning legislation on Tuesday, November 14 -- reduced distance between residential areas and dispensaries, from 500 feet to 300 feet) -- and it has cleared the way for a dispensary to open at 4201 Northview Drive in Bowie. [caption id="attachment_6078" align="aligncenter" width="450"] courtesy of Capital Gazette[/caption] While the SENTEL group has a state issued license to operate in Prince Georges County, the Northview Drive site couldn't have moved forward without the county’s vote. The Council approved the measure by a five to three vote while the city voted five to one against the bill. Even though the city has voted against the measure, the county and state’s laws override the city’s authority, giving SENTEL and other groups leeway in finding locations for their businesses. SENTEL’s president, Bridget Spruill, expects to have the dispensary open in February, with the full support of the building’s landlord and tenants.
The measure has faced opposition as another dispensary applicant plans to open a dispensary at the 5800 block of Allentown Way in Camp Springs, next door to a church. The church’s pastor and community members protested by launching a website and starting a petition, which, in the end, was unsuccessful as the measure passed. [caption id="attachment_6076" align="aligncenter" width="620"] courtesy of NBC4 Washington[/caption] Barring any further setbacks, the two dispensaries will likely will open next year as planned. The Northview location will be across from Bowie Town Center and the Camp Springs location will be in the Allentown strip mall. What are your thoughts on the new measure? Let us know in the comments below.