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Maryland Marijuana Business Licenses Take a Step Toward Legal Conflicts
Marijuana Creates a House Divided
Maryland is headed into a string of legal battles with its plan to begin issuing business licenses soon to distribute medical marijuana in the suburbs of Washington and elsewhere.
The marijuana sales are nearly certain to create dilemmas for the real estate industry, such as whether landlords must tolerate residents who smoke the weed and whether their property values will be affected, according to a report by The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net).
Residents near the planned retail stores for the marijuana are concerned about greater crime near their homes or businesses.
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission plans to start accepting applications for the licenses this month. Sales are expected to begin before the end of 2016.
Maryland would allow counties to regulate local sales of marijuana but not ban it completely. The state law authorizes 94 dispensaries, or two per state Senate district.
Some county officials propose passing local ordinances to ban or restrict marijuana sales.
The counties are setting themselves up for conflicts over the state law approved two years ago that allows the sales.
In one example, Baltimore County tried to restrict locations for marijuana dispensaries. Marijuana advocates say the restrictions are so severe that they effectively ban cannabis sales.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh (R) wants a complete ban on cannabis production and retail shops in the county.
Montgomery County and Prince George’s County officials have not yet expressed definitive positions on how they will handle marijuana sales.
Before the sales begin, advocates say they are likely to file lawsuits to prevent local restrictions that would interfere with their ability to purchase marijuana to relieve symptoms of epileptic seizures, glaucoma and other maladies.
But local officials say medical treatment is not their concern. They want to prevent recreational use of the drug that could hurt the brains of young people. They also want to eliminate the risk criminals will steal marijuana from legal purchasers to sell it on the black market.
District of Columbia laws on medical marijuana sales are essentially the same as the Maryland laws. Virginia allows only very limited use of marijuana oil for medical purposes.