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Site eyed for medical cannabis facility
By JONATHAN CRIBBS
HURLOCK, Md. (Sept. 29, 2015) — A group of Eastern Shore investors is looking to open a medical cannabis facility in Dorchester County as the state begins the process of regulating an industry it legalized almost three years ago.
The group plans to close on 106,000 square feet of canopy space at the former site of Marvesta Shrimp Farms at Hurlock Industrial Park by Oct. 15, said Ken Abner, the venture’s CEO and a former president of the Federalsburg Town Council.
The site will serve as a home for two businesses: Cannamedus, a medical marijuana growing and processing facility and dispensary that still requires state approval and KRA Wellness, an essential oils company. Abner would run both.
Among the four investors is Shawn Sizer, an organic farmer in Anne Arundel County, Abner said. Sizer will serve as the company’s horticulturist and security manager, and the business would employ up to 50 people.
Although the country has become increasingly accepting of legalization efforts for medical and even recreational cannabis, it remains controversial among some residents. Some worry the legalization of medical marijuana will invariably lead to recreational legalization.
But Abner said he looks at it purely as a medicinal treatment. The drug is an effective treatment against side effects of chemotherapy, including pain and lack of appetite, and may be able to treat the malady itself, he said — things he said he learned after watching his father struggle with and die of cancer 15 years ago.
“This has been ongoing for me. … The country’s way behind on the science,” Abner said. “As an all-around therapeutic treatment… there’s some value for the product in arresting nausea and allowing (patients) to eat.”
Abner said he and other members of the group have been meeting with local boards, chambers and public safety departments to build support for the company.
The Hurlock Town Council recently voted unanimously to draft a letter of support.
The state, through its medical cannabis commission, has only begun receiving applications for growing facilities, 15 of which will be allowed to operate in the state.
The number of dispensaries will be limited to two per senatorial district.
They could be given approval as early as this winter and would be given up to a year to get their operation going, but Abner said Cannamedus, if it wins approval, could be up and selling to customers as next summer.
So far, much of the interest in starting growing facilities has been centered in central and western Maryland.
There is interest on the Eastern Shore, however. A company called CBD Wellness Group reportedly made a presentation to the Easton Town Council in June. Some companies are from out of state, though Abner said his companies’ investors are all local.
“The money stays here,” he said.
The Maryland Farm Bureau has not developed policy on the production of medical marijuana though it opposes the legalization of it for recreational purposes, said Katie Ward, Farm Bureau spokesperson.
The Farm Bureau will discuss the production of medical cannabis at its yearly convention in December, she said.