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Council supports application for medical marijuana dispensary

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Posted on: November 6, 2015

BY SAM STERN AND REBECA BENNETT — On Nov. 2, the Hyattsville City Council voted in favor of writing a letter of support from the City of Hyattsville for Hoye-Crest Apothecary to establish a medical cannabis dispensary in the city limits.  The item was only slated for discussion after a public hearing and presentation, but the council decided to take action to meet a Nov. 6 deadline.

Hoye-Crest is applying to establish the dispensary in Maryland Senate District 22. According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s recommendation, each district can have up to two dispensaries.  “This choice highlights the vibrancy of the city and the place of honor we occupied in district 22. Mention should also be made of the city’s strategic location and growing economic developments,” said Council President Edouard Haba (Ward 4).

According to Kiera Sears, chief compliance officer of Hoye-Crest Apothecary, the building will be approximately 2,000 square feet and will be staffed by 10-12 employees.

“The State of Maryland has used the term medical cannabis dispensary, but we really want to highlight that this is a pharmacy,” said Sears. “Our approach … is in a traditional pharmaceutical model.”

“It will be physician and pharmacist directed,” Sears said, stating that they have enlisted and/or plan to hire a clinical director, a pharmaceutical advisor, and a dispensing pharmacist.  “Our pharmacists have extensive experience — two decades each for the three of them — in understanding the current medications that patients take, the dosage they are on, and what their short term and long term goals are for receiving medical help.”

Sears said that marijuana is moving towards being classified as a Schedule Two narcotic, which would allow its sale in pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens.

Councilmember Thomas Wright asked about the future of the dispensary as it pertains to the pharmaceutical industry’s’ interest in the medical marijuana business. “If they go to level 2 then can be done by a regular pharmacy like CVS? So what would happen to your business then?”

Sears said they have invested a large amount of time, energy and money into their security protocols, which include security guards, cameras, lighting and awareness. “We don’t want to be a burden to the city. We want to be a resource,” she said. “We don’t intend to take from law enforcement.  We intend to allow them to do their job.”

Hoye-Crest representatives said they also plan to educate local youth, have a substance abuse prevention plan, add nearly a dozen local jobs, and possibly provide a bio-rich cannabis waste program that could be used in a community garden.

“If we are coming in and making a profit off of the community, we want to give back,” Sears said.

Hyattsville resident Shannon Wyss said she knows or had known people with HIV-AIDS, cancer, or multiple-sclerosis.  “Are you willing to look into the eyes of someone who can find relief no other way and condemn that person to a life of unending pain?” She said.

Councilmember Paula Perry (Ward 4) said her brother, who lives in Maine, has seizures and almost died, but prolonged his life through cannabis use.

Councilmember Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) voted no and Haba abstained from the vote.

Licenses are scheduled to go out in December or January with product expected to be available by summer 2016, a city memo said.

For more information, visit the city council packet for the public hearing.

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