By Eric Beasley
Ahhhhh…. the issue that separates the Republicans from the Libertarians. Marijuana. Ganja. Pot. Weed. Stoners. You know what I’m getting at…
Before you ask, despite my birthplace of California, the hippie pot-smoking capital of the known universe, I have never partaken in the Magic Dragon. Just wanted to get that out of the way right now.
Signed into law April 14, 2014 and effective September 14th, 2015, Maryland allows for medicinal usage of marijuana. This is probably the only good legislation to come out of Annapolis during the Owe’Malley years.
With the changes in state law, an entirely new industry has been created overnight. Growers across the state are submitting applications to the State for a license to grow marijuana. Thanks, 10th Amendment!
However, there remains one obstacle for these entrepreneurs. The counties.
Here in Frederick County, the County Council has experienced a mixed reaction to the bill, proposed by Council Vice-President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D). Included in this bill are zoning regulations determining the type and status of the facility:
- Cannot be within 1,000 feet of a house.
- Property cannot share a boundary with a school.
- People outside the building should not be able to see any artificial light on the property from dusk to dawn.
- 24-hour armed security for the site. Each additional 25,000 square feet of growing area mandates an additional armed guard.
Let’s compare these regulations to the state regulations:
- Fencing and gate around the growing area.
- Security alarm.
- Video surveillance with date and time stamps
I happen to know a thing or two about security. It’s my day job. The County regulations proposed are at best Security Theater, and at worst they will prevent this industry from being viable within the County. Leave it to the Democrats to take a perfectly suitable security regulation at the state level and make additions to those regulations to regulate an industry out of the County.
“But Eric, those county regulations seem perfectly reasonable. Why are you calling them security theater?” you might be asking…
Sure. The artificial light and boundary regulations are perfectly reasonable. They do not adversely impact the industry, as Frederick County has no shortage of open land. That’s not my issue.
I sent this in an e-mail to the County Council. I took the time to break down the cost of having 24-hour armed security on the premise:
Armed security does not come cheap here in Maryland. There are substantial burdens to become licensed to carry a firearm, meaning the market value of this category of labor are increased relative to other jurisdictions. For the sake of round numbers, let’s assume wages for a security guard are $15/hour. Actual cost to the security company for to hire this employee are more like $28/hour, once benefits and payroll taxes are included. Add on a profit margin and administrative costs (HR support, equipment, etc.), and we are looking at approximately $35/hour to have a security guard.
There are a total of 8,760 hours in a given year. This means a grower would have to spend $306,600 each year for 24/7 armed security. This is not chump change, this represents a significant overhead cost to the grower.
The State regulations are perfectly suitable for this sort of facility. Think about this, do gun stores have to have 24-hour armed security? I’d make the argument that a firearm in the hands of a criminal is much more dangerous than a bag of weed. Yet we accept that the security procedures at a gun store (alarm, physical locks) are suitable to protect the assets of that business. I see no reason why the security measures to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals are not also acceptable to keep legally-grown marijuana out of their hands.
Eric is a former officer in the Republican Club of Frederick County and Frederick County Republican Central Committee between 2015 and 2018. Former guest host on WFMD and showrunner on WTHU. Avid gardener and food preserver. Graduated from Libertarianism to Anarchism as the corruption level in the state requires us to start over from scratch.