Westminster council briefed on cannabis plans

At a public hearing on Monday, the Westminster city council heard a synopsis of plans to bring a medical cannabis growing and processing center to Westminster.

Andy Cohen, a minority principal with Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness, told the council about the company's plans for 1234 Tech Court, a building located off Md. 97 north of Md. 140.


Cohen spoke at a public hearing on a rezoning and simplified site plan for the building.

In August, Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness LLC was awarded preliminary approval by the state to grow and process cannabis for medical use. It was the only applicant awarded pre-approval in Carroll County.

The county Board of Commissioners granted a small victory to medical cannabis advocates Thursday, moving to adjust proposed zoning regulations to allow growing, processing and dispensing as principal permitted uses in industrial zones.

The company, which Cohen said is headed by three principals based in Illinois, received one of just 15 growing and 15 processing pre-approvals granted by the state.

The Maryland General Assembly approved medical cannabis use in 2013. Since then, officials have been working to get the industry off the ground in the state.

Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness will find out in August whether it wins final approval from the state to begin operating.

Dispensary licensees have not been announced, but Cohen said the group has not pursued any dispensary licenses in Carroll County.

The Tech Court site is perfect for Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness' needs, Cohen, a Reisterstown resident, said.

"It's a great building. It's in great shape, structurally," he said. "It's really ideal for our use size-wise as well."

On the outside of the building, he said, there will be only minimal changes made, but the inside will see $6-8 million in improvements and renovations to accommodate agricultural activities related to growing cannabis and labs needed to process the plant, as well as any necessary professional offices.

The site, Cohen said, will be subject to constant surveillance, including an on-site security guard during business hours.

Those in the area can expect to see the site open and operating from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with a small level of visitation by employees on the weekends to care for the plants, Cohen said.

If Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness receives final approval, it will employ a maximum of about 100 people at the Tech Court site, Cohen said. Those employees' jobs will range from horticulture to sales, he said.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners heard from nearly a dozen speakers at a Thursday morning public hearing who told them that the county's proposed restrictions on medical cannabis are unduly restrictive.

The building is capable of receiving deliveries from large trucks, but Cohen said most of the company's deliveries both to and from the building can be made with regular-sized vehicles and box trucks.

"This is not like tractor trailers of cannabis going down the road," he said.


The state has set up strict security guidelines the operation will have to follow, but Cohen said the group will also work closely with the Westminster Police Department and Carroll County Sheriff's Office as needed.

While public comments included only a few technical questions for Cohen, council member Robert Wack warned Cohen that, though the company's current forecast that it would require about 2,000 gallons of water a day is minimal, any additional water needs could require the company to explore ways to save or re-use what water it can.

Cohen said the group is already exploring the possibility of incorporating systems that allow things like recycling used water.

"So much of the industry is new," Cohen said.



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