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Public hearing sees support for Westminster cannabis dispensary

Mayor Joe Dominick oversaw a public hearing before the Westminster Common Council on Monday night for zoning to allow a medical cannabis dispensary to open in Westminster. Currently, there are no dispensaries operating in the county.

Following the hearing, the council agreed unanimously to introduce an ordinance that will be voted on at a later meeting.


Diane Davison, applicant and owner of DLD Enterprises LLC, spoke at the hearing to address public concerns about the proposed business and council members addressed questions to her.

If the council votes to approve the ordinance, the Medical Cannabis Overlay District will be applied to the specific proposed location of the dispensary, Suite K of the building at 700 Corporate Center Court. The site is within the established Medical Cannabis Overlay District and zoned P-I Planning Industrial.


The dispensary would be split into two sections. The public area would include a waiting area, a reception area for checking patient credentials and a retail area for sale of noncannabis items. The nonpublic area in which cannabis products would be sold would be separated and only accessible to those with approved credentials.

Maryland code makes specific requirements regarding security measures that licensed dispensary premises must take, which Davison also addressed at the request of Council member Gregory Pecoraro. These include video surveillance, a vault to store stock, chip-card access to certain areas, and multiple back-ups and redundancies.

A verified certification from a physician, the medical cannabis equivalent of a prescription, would be needed from every patient. These are tracked in real-time using a state database.

Council President Robert Wack questioned how the state determines that dispensaries are not making illegal sales of their cannabis products.

“They track every single plant and leaf from seed through sale,” she said.

Davison said the retail area would sell apparatuses used to consume cannabis products and T-shirts or other merchandise.

Council members Tony Chiavacci and Mona Becker questioned Davison about the items to be sold in the retail area.

“It would be the same items that are sold in a smoke shop or vape shop nonprescription,” she said.


Davison said this would allow patients to purchase the items in the same place that they purchase the medical cannabis and prevent them from having to travel to multiple locations.

The council also questioned whether patients would be able to consume cannabis items on the premises.

“Absolutely not,” Davison replied. “That is against the law. They’re not allowed to consume it in public, either. The only place they’re allowed to consume it is in their own private residence.”

Six members of the community — including patients approved to use medical cannabis, a patient’s advocate and nonpatients — gave public comment. All six spoke in favor of a dispensary in the city.

Speakers said cannabis treatment can benefit conditions including arthritis, autoimmune disease and a disability involving chronic pain. An often-echoed sentiment was that medical cannabis can help with pain management while allowing the patients to avoid an opioid prescription.

Tony Frazetti, a patient’s advocate for his wife, said cannabis use can bring her pain down from a level 8 to a level 4 or 5.


“I’m looking forward to my wife getting as much treatment as possible for this pain and giving her a better quality of life,” he said.

He feels that the Westminster dispensary’s stock will be well-guarded from his experience at other facilities in the state.

“I have a better chance of robbing Walgreens,” he joked.

Resident Robert Post questioned why the city should allow funds to continue to go to other dispensaries out of the county when they could go to a business in Westminster.

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The possibility of allowing a medical cannabis facility in Westminster was made concrete in October 2015 when the Common Council passed an ordinance that created the process for gaining approval and established the Medical Cannabis Overlay District.

The Westminster process is part of a larger approval process required by the state for an applicant to successfully secure a dispensary license. DLD Enterprises has already acquired preapproval from the state, the first step. The second requires the applicant to obtain all relevant local zoning and planning permissions.


If the zoning application to the city is approved, the dispensary will have to pass a third process at the state level.

Previous to the public hearing before the mayor and Common Council meeting, a public hearing was held before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 14. The commission voted to recommend approval during its Jan. 11 meeting.

Twelve community members spoke during the public comment section of the Dec. 14 hearing, according to the meeting summary available on the city’s website.

Common threads of the concerns expressed during the previous public hearing included the proximity of the dispensary location to Westminster Community Pond. Maryland code does not require a medical cannabis facility to maintain a distance from a public park, but residents asked the commission to consider that the park is used by children. State law does require medical cannabis facilities to be located 1,000 feet away from public and private schools.

Residents also cited statistics that predicted a drop in property values for residences located in proximity to a medical cannabis dispensary.