CECIL CHATTER: Janney Signs on to Pot Farm Bid; Cecil County Council Tours Animal Shelter
EX-SHERIFF JANNEY CONSIDERS SECURITY CHIEF JOB FOR PROPOSED POT FARM
Former Cecil County Sheriff Barry Janney, who is currently the chief of the Community Corrections unit of the county’s Detention Center, has joined a group of Harford County residents and businessmen in a bid to obtain one of 15 state licenses for a medical marijuana growing facility. In a highly competitive process, a special state commission is expected to pick the successful winners from hundreds of applicants in the next month or so.
Janney is involved with an operation, “True Health Chesapeake, LLC,” that was first identified as an applicant by The Washington Post, which filed freedom of information requests to obtain names of persons associated with applicants for pot farm licenses. However, The Post identified the proposed location of the True Health facility as in Cecil County, but Janney told Cecil Times that in fact the planned operation would be located in the agricultural area of northern Harford County near Jarrettsville.
Cecil County Sheriff Scott Adams told Cecil Times he had discussed the matter with Janney and made it clear that if the facility were to be licensed by the state, Janney would be “out” of his Cecil County position if he continued to be associated with True Health.
Janney said that he “loves what I do” in the community corrections program in Cecil County and that he only considered the medical marijuana proposal after he was approached to be the security director, and after he did his own “due diligence” on the people involved with the planned operation. He praised the family of Joshua M. Dresher, who is listed as the chief executive of the operation, for the family’s charitable contributions in Harford County, including the “birthing center” at the Upper Chesapeake health facility where Janney’s own grandchild was born.
“I was impressed with their integrity and professionalism,” Janney said of his potential employers. He said he had thoroughly reviewed the stringent state regulations for security at a medical marijuana growing facility and the Dresher family agreed with his insistence that the operation would have to operate as a “model” of security and integrity with safeguards in place to ensure that “only people who need” medical marijuana would be able to obtain it. The True Health group has applied for a pot growing license as well as related licensing status for a distribution operation and a “dispensary” to provide medical marijuana directly to eligible patients.
Janney said he remains “firmly opposed” to recreational use of marijuana. But with the changes in state law and a growing body of medical research showing health benefits to some patients, such as cancer victims, he has become confident that there can be safe, secure medical marijuana operations that would still keep the drug out of the hands of recreational users.
Another Sheriff’s Department employee, Bruce Diehle, who is in charge of internal affairs investigations, is also on the roster of proposed employees of True Health. Janney said the former state trooper, who at one point supervised human resources operations with that agency, would be brought on board the medical marijuana operation as the human resources director. His law enforcement background was considered a “plus” since state regulations place top priority on security of the proposed marijuana growing, processing and dispensing operations, Janney noted.
Also involved in the True Health operation is Dan Whitehurst, a former senior executive and lobbyist for the Clark Turner real estate and development operation which was active in Harford and Cecil counties. Turner’s business interests have filed for bankruptcy protection and Whitehurst is no longer involved in that entity.
In Cecil County, several other applicants were identified as seeking medical marijuana growing facility licenses, including LMS Wellness, LLC; Citiva Maryland, LLC; and Pharmhouse LLC. Many other applicants for state licenses did not list the county in which they planned to operate. One other locally known applicant from the Warwick area is a family farm that has grown ornamental plants for several generations but is looking to get into the medical marijuana business under the state program.
COUNTY COUNCIL GOES to the DOGS: ANIMAL ORDINANCE UNDER REVIEW
Foxy, a talkative Pomeranian mix who is grieving the death of her owner, trotted around the enclosed front desk area at Cecil County’s newly acquired animal shelter and loudly greeted three members of the County Council on Tuesday as lawmakers toured the Chesapeake City facility.
Council President Robert Hodge and Councilors Joyce Bowlsbey and George Patchell visited the former Cecil County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. (CCSPCA) shelter on Route 213 in Chesapeake City, which re-opened under county government ownership and operations on July 1. The shelter was largely empty, with few dogs on site but a sizeable contingent of newborn kittens clustered in rolling wire cages in hallways of the facility.
Abigail Lightning Bingham, the new shelter director, led the tour along with David Trolio, the head of the Community Services Department under whose agency the animal services programs operate. Bingham said that since the shelter opened quietly earlier this month, the facility has had 30 dogs “leave the building.”
That terminology includes both adoptions from the shelter itself to “forever homes,” returns of strays to owners, and turning over animals to “rescue” groups from other areas that take dogs and cats from the Cecil County shelter in hopes that they can find the animals adoptive families elsewhere. Bingham said it was her goal to get dogs out of the shelter as quickly as possible so that there will always be room to take in new strays.
As part of Bingham’s remodeling plans for the shelter, she reduced the number of dog kennels from the 51 during the CCSPCA ownership to 40 kennels now. She also remodeled the former open cat room and broke it up into several separate rooms and caged areas, with the result that there were only two cats roaming freely in a much smaller open cat room on Tuesday. (One cat carried on a conversation with Councilor Patchell and brushed up against him in a coy appeal for adoption. But Patchell said he thought his dog would object.)
This past weekend, the shelter participate in a national “clear the shelters” initiative that gave away dogs and cats for free, with no adoption fees. Bingham said there were “six or seven” free adoptions handled under that program. Normally, dog adoption fees are $65 and cat adoption fees are $40, she said.
Since the shelter is still working out state and federal licensing requirements, no spay or neuter surgeries have been performed on animals before they were released for adoption. Bingham said that once the required licenses have been obtained for the shelter facility, adopters will be able to return to the shelter to have a pet spayed or neutered.
Trolio disclosed that he, Bingham, the county attorney and other officials have begun to review the county’s animal ordinance– which was re-written over a nearly two year period primarily by Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian and prime sponsor of A Buddy for Life, Inc., a private “rescue” group. The Buddies received over $2.5 million in animal control contract fees from the county government over a three and a half year period during the administration of County Executive Tari Moore.
Among the more controversial provisions authored by Carletti is a rule that if a person feeds or “harbors” a stray animal for three days or more, that person is considered the “owner” of the animal and is legally responsible for its care, licensing and housing. Some citizens complained that the Buddies used that clause to refuse to take in strays to their rented shelter space in Elkton.
Bingham said the county operations would not enforce that three-day rule. If someone fed a stray that they did not own and could not keep, the county shelter would agree to take the stray into care and provide a five “business day” holding period so that a true owner would have time to find the animal before it was made available to the public for adoption.
During the tour, several Council members commented on how “spacious” the shelter is and how many separate rooms are available for housing, care and medical treatment of the animals. Bingham showed off the surgical suite, where in the future animal spay/neuter surgeries will be performed, and noted that all the medical equipment—including x-ray, ultrasound, operating tables, and related equipment– had been left behind by the CCSPCA.