SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County are considering changes to proposed legislation on public marijuana consumption.
Earlier this month, officials with the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office came before the Wicomico County Council with proposed legislation that would prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public areas and vehicles.
“Just because marijuana now has an exception and you can possess marijuana legally by way of a medical marijuana card, it doesn’t mean you should be allowed to consume marijuana in public, as the statute says, on public street fares, sidewalks, in a shopping center or, more importantly, in your vehicle,” Deputy State’s Attorney Bill McDermott told the council.
The proposed legislation mirrors a recently adopted ordinance in Fruitland. Not only does the legislation prohibit marijuana consumption in vehicles and public areas but makes it a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days.
From that initial meeting, members of the county council identified concerns about certain language in the proposed legislation. On Tuesday, McDermott said officials were proposing new verbiage.
“The last time we met there were some concern that the definition of consumption would prohibit the application of certain topical medications that certain patients needed to alleviate their medical conditions …” he said. “We are proposing to change the word consume to smoke.”
McDermott said he and State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes continue to work with Council Attorney Bob Taylor, members of the community and those in the medical marijuana industry to address concerns.
“One of the more interesting meetings we had was with Mr. Darby who is the CEO of Peninsula Alternative Health, one of the marijuana dispensaries located here in Salisbury …,” he said. “In cooperation, we were able to address his concern and the larger medical marijuana community’s concern with the definition of consume.”
McDermott told the council the state’s attorney’s office was requesting an opinion from the attorney general on the proposed legislation. Officials said the goal is to introduce the legislation at a future county council meeting.
“As we work through these issues, we’ve enjoyed this process and we will continue to answer any concerns you may have or complete any tasks moving forward,” he said.