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Editorial: Medical cannibis providing industrial, job growth in Carroll County

A look inside Grassroots Cannabis, the first cannabis grower to open in Carroll County since the state implemented its medical marijuana program.

When it was announced that medical marijuana was coming to Maryland, and later that Carroll County would be home to a licensed grower and, eventually, a pair of dispensaries, there was much gnashing of teeth and concern about how it may adversely affect the community.

Roughly six months after Grassroots Cannabis opened its nondescript medical cannabis growing facility on a stretch of Taneytown Pike, several county leaders, including a few skeptics, now recognize the benefits of the new industry in Carroll County.

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Grassroots Cannabis, is one of just 15 companies that hold a license to grow medical cannabis in Maryland. Thus far, it has about 20 employees at its Taneytown facility, but Andy Cohen, one of the company’s partners, says that could expand to 100 to 120 workers there within the next year. And most of those workers live right here in Carroll, many in Taneytown.

Recently, the Carroll County Business & Employment Resource Center, or BERC, held a job fair for Grassroots Cannabis, trying to find local people interested in a variety of jobs, ranging from drivers and packagers to lab, security and maintenance staff.

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Should the industry continue to grow, and there is little doubt that it will, Grassroots is prepared to expand its operations as well. There are 30 medical cannabis dispensaries operating in Maryland as of last month, with more than 100 expected eventually, all providing product by state-licensed growers like Grassroots.

Grassroots Cannabis is one of just 15 companies holding a license to grow medical cannabis in Maryland, and its growing a lot of it, right there in Taneytown.

Already a 54,000-square-foot facility, Cohen says space exists to quadruple operations if needed, which means more money invested in the county and more jobs for local residents. The initial renovation of the building was an $8 million investment.

Those numbers should make elected leaders, who have long advocated adding to the county’s industrial tax base and bringing good-paying manufacturing jobs to Carroll, smile.

County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, who represents that Taneytown area and, admittedly, had his reservations about the medical marijuana industry, still has concerns about legalizing recreational sales and use, but noted of Grassroots: “They have it together,” and are “doing it the right way.” Taneytown City Manager Henry Heine noted the company’s strong security measures and said that its operations have been low-key.

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Marijuana will no doubt continue to be a contentious issue, particularly as talks of legalizing it for recreational use eventually ramp up in the state. But there is no question that medical cannabis is now a very real, very viable enterprise.

Even better, because it is a relatively new industry in Maryland, there are lots of opportunities for young people to get into the business on the ground floor, make their mark and get promoted to jobs that pay quite well, while staying in Carroll and re-investing that paycheck into local businesses and the real estate market.

“That’s part of that economic growth cycle that we so desperately need here,” Wantz said.

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