Md. wouldn't be able to control marijuana dispensaries

February 04, 2010

Don't look now, but if the current medical marijuana legislation is passed, a local pot dispensary could end up in your neighborhood ("Md. fights through haze over medical marijuana," Jan. 31). Those supporting the legislation promise to set up tight restrictions on the placement of these dispensaries, but as we have seen with the increased numbers of liquor licenses and methadone clinics, the government has a pretty poor track record in protecting our communities, especially our children.

In Los Angeles they needed to re-write their legislation when over 1,000 applications were submitted to open up marijuana dispensaries, and in Denver there are now more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks. This is big business, and like with alcohol and methadone, we are opening ourselves up to political corruption and manipulation. Once again our communities will be left out of any decision making about where these dispensaries will go.

Even if the government tries to monitor their locations, these dispensaries will file lawsuits claiming they are servicing the handicapped and thus cannot be discriminated against in regards to zoning. We have seen these cases in Baltimore County and in Baltimore City. The Hampden community is going through this right now. Therefore, before we pass any medical marijuana legislation in Maryland, we need to set up a commission to study the impact of opening marijuana dispensaries on our communities and on our children.

Mike Gimbel, Towson

The writer is the former director of substance abuse for Baltimore County.

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