St. Mary's Commissioners Hold Off Support for Cannabis Bill



HOLLYWOOD, Md. (December 06, 2018)—Some of the Commissioners of St. Mary's County supported a statewide bill that would lower the required age to work on a medical marijuana growing facility from 21 to 18, but not enough to send a letter to support its passage in the Maryland General Assembly.

Three commissioners including Eric Colvin, Todd Morgan and Mike Hewitt decided not to support the measure when it came up for discussion Tuesday with other legislative proposals headed to Annapolis.

Morgan wanted more time to get more information on medical marijuana growing while Hewitt flatly declined support.

"I'm a 'no'," Hewitt said.

Commissioner John O'Connor, who has in the past voiced opposition to locally growing medical marijuana, said he supported the measure because of the economic development opportunities it could afford the county.

"In Maryland it's a $100 million industry already," O'Connor said. "I don't think we should miss the boat."

O'Connor was the one to introduce it to the commissioners for a vote this week.

Commissioner President James "Randy" Guy also voiced his support.

"I have no problem with this," Guy said. "This is going to happen at the state level."

The impetus behind the drive for local support came from a local medical marijuana dispensary owned by Charles Mattingly, Southern Maryland Relief ( somdrelief.com/ ).

Mattingly said in an interview with The County Times that while they only now have the license to dispense medical marijuana, he was confident the state would soon allow him to operate a secure growing facility.

He said a growing facility here, which would not be outdoors but in a secured in-door facility, could employ as many as 100 workers.

"This industry is growing each day," Mattingly said. "This isn't about cannabis, this is about horticulture in general."

Mattingly argued that fewer and fewer young people getting out of college were pursuing agricultural or manufacturing jobs.

By giving them lucrative agricultural jobs earlier, it might spur them to consider jobs that dealt more with agriculture, said Mattingly.

"We can get farming up and about again," Mattingly said, adding that younger workers could be employed in the planting process, such as preparing soil, without coming into contact with cannabis plants.

Mattingly said the medical cannabis his dispensary dealt with was high in CBD or cannabidiol which had wide ranging medicinal purposes from reducing the affects of dementia to relieving seizures.

Cannabidiol differed from THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which was the active ingredient in marijuana that induced a narcotic high.

For more local stories from the County Times newspapers, visit countytimes.somd.com or find a copy on local news stands.

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