Pubdate: Mon, 15 Aug 2016
Source: Cecil Whig (MD)
Copyright: 2016 Cecil Whig
Author: Jacob Owens


Former Sheriff Janney Has Stake in Application

BALTIMORE - Today marks the day when Cecil County will find out 
whether its future will be green, benefitting economically from the 
development of potential medical marijuana growing and processing facilities.

The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, under 
the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which was 
formed by 2014 legislation to develop policies, procedures and 
regulations to implement the state's medical marijuana program, voted 
on its stage one license pre-approvals for 15 growers and the first 
15 processors on Aug. 5.

None of the applicants to receive the groundbreaking approvals were 
publicly identified, however, as those selected then underwent a 
stringent financial and legal background check. This afternoon, the 
commission will publicly identify those who will receive the licenses 
and kickstart a process of permitting and building across the state 
for the winners.

While 15 grower and processor licenses will be issued initially, 
state law allows for only two to locate in a single senatorial 
district, meaning Cecil County could have a potential for four such operations.

According to a Washington Post analysis of applicants to the state 
commission, at least three of the 144 grower applicants have 
specifically stated plans to locate in Cecil County, including Citiva 
Maryland LLC, led by a former Syracuse, N.Y., police chief who serves 
on a prescription drug abuse advisory task force; LMS Wellness BLLC, 
whose security director, King Wilson White Jr., was once a Baltimore 
narcotics detective; and Pharmhouse LLC, whose chief executive Rohan 
Malhotra is a former Drexel law student.

Numerous other applicants did not specify where they planned to 
locate in the state, meaning Cecil County has a much bigger potential 
stake in the financial investments by such operations. At least two 
applicants that did not specify - The Clinic Maryland LLC and 
Freestate Wellness LLC - met with county leaders prior to submitting 
their paperwork to discuss possible placements.

The Cecil County Council sent a generic letter to the state licensing 
commission informing them the county has proper zoning in place for 
these operations and would welcome them to the county. County 
officials said the applicants they met with included a mixture of 
local and out-of-state prospects with most seeking a facility that 
would grow and process medical marijuana. They discussed locations 
around the county, estimated they could create between 30 and 50 jobs 
and none asked for government concessions.

The only county requirement in the process would be proper zoning. 
Growing-only operations can be located in agriculture zoning, but any 
processing plant must be in an industrial zone.

While Cecil County stands to gain much, some of its citizens are also 
involved in the process outside of its border. Chief among them may 
be former Cecil County Sheriff Barry Janney, who is listed as the 
security head for True Health Chesapeake LLC, an applicant that looks 
to build a cultivation facility near Jarrettsville in Harford County.

Janney chose not to seek re-election in 2014 after serving 12 years 
as sheriff and is currently the director of the Community Adult 
Rehabilitation Center, the Cecil County Detention Center's work 
release program.

On Friday, Janney said he was approached by members of the True 
Health Chesapeake team last year. With 37 years of law enforcement 
experience in the Maryland State Police and Cecil County Sheriff's 
Office, along with some time as a loss prevention officer as a side 
job, Janney said he was excited by the idea of a new challenge.

"This team of investors was putting their team together and my name 
popped up, because security plays a very important role in this

application process," he said, noting the initial contact was made 
through Dan Whitehurst, a former Cecil County developer for Clark 
Turner Homes and member of True Health Chesapeake's investment team. 
"So I sent in a resume, and they called me in. They interviewed me 
and I interviewed them, because I wanted to make sure it was done by 
the book, professionally. I walked away thinking this was a topnotch team."

Janney, who actively testified against the decriminalization of 
marijuana as the county's top law enforcement officer, said he 
remains against the legalization of pot, but has come to recognize 
its benefits as a prescription drug.

"I'm not for recreational, but I do support medical," he said. "I 
knew people who were dying of cancer and this was something they 
could have used to ease their pain. And there's other instances where 
it can treat epileptic seizures in children."

The fact that True Health Chesapeake is led by developer Joshua 
Dresher, whose family's Dresher Family Birthplace in Bel Air was 
where Janney's grandson was recently born, helped the former sheriff 
grow comfortable with becoming attached to the project, he said.

"He's an entrepreneur, a Christian, just the kind of guy that you 
want to sit and listen to," Janney said. "I made it very clear that 
because these regulations are so strict that I won't deviate from 
them. And he said that's why he selected me because he wanted it done 
by the book."

Janney said that he believed the fact that the applicants are 
Marylanders rather than outsiders helps their application.

"We live here and our families are here, so we want to make sure this 
is done right maybe more so than someone coming in from California," 
he said. "A lot of the applicants put in for every county and I think 
that sets the wrong tone for the commission. We know what we want to do."

Cecil County Sheriff Scott Adams told the Whig last week that if True 
Health Chesapeake receives a license and Janney signs a contract to 
work with the company, he would ask the CARC director to step down.

"He was aware that was the stipulation going in. I can't tell him he 
can't do that, but if he was going to take that job than he would 
have to sever ties here," Adams said.

As the announcements approached though, Janney said he believed his 
team had a good chance of success.

"I feel good about our chances," he said. "I'm excited because I 
would be getting in on the ground floor of this in Maryland if we're 
lucky enough to get a license."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom