State Roundup, August 17, 2016

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HANCOCK IN POT RX BIZ? The small Western Maryland town of Hancock — population 1,545 — is poised to be a part-owner of a medical marijuana company after winning a license to grow cannabis plants this week, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. The town is in a unique partnership with an Arizona company that plans to grow cannabis in a town-owned warehouse and share profits with the Washington County town.

RESTAURATEUR & MEDICAL POT: Jeff Black, the restaurateur behind Black’s Restaurant Group, is poised to become a player in the state’s budding medical marijuana industry, writes Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. Black is the chief operating officer of Doctor’s Orders LLC—one of the businesses given preliminary approval by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to grow and process medical marijuana in the state.

ALLEGANY STILL HOPES TO SECURE POT RX BIZ: With news of a medical cannabis processor licensed to locate in Allegany County, local officials remain positive that some portion of the burgeoning industry could still wind up in the area. Fallout continues from Monday’s announcement of the pre-approval of 15 growing and 15 processing licenses by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, Greg Larry of the Cumberland Times News writes. Although Peak Harvest Health LLC, who made a significant effort to establish an operation in Cumberland was not selected, two applicants planning to locate in Western Maryland were chosen.

NEXT STEPS IN POT BIZ: Maryland lawmakers opened the door to medical marijuana over three years ago. While it still hasn’t made its way to patients, Michael Bronfein has spearheaded the effort to make medical marijuana available to those who need it. Mike Hellgren of WJZ interviews one hopeful provider and some of the patients who are helped by the drug.

INEQUALITY FOR THE DISABLED: Del. Eric Luedtke writes, in an opinion piece for MarylandReporter.com, that while the gender pay gap and institutionalized racial discrimination are regular topics of debate in America, it’s rare for political leaders to talk about disability rights, and even rarer for it to be a topic of conversation among the general public. This despite the fact that nearly 50 million Americans have a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

TRANSPORTATION FRONT & CENTER: Transportation and technology will be on the minds of many local officials heading to Ocean City for the opening of the Maryland Association of Counties annual convention, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

DEM GOV HOPEFULS HEAD TO SHORE: Three Democrats widely considered to be the most likely candidates to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018 will head to the Eastern Shore for a statewide conference of county officials, and each will make an unofficial pitch for himself as the one to take on the popular Republican. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern  Baker and U.S. Rep. John Delaney have been making the rounds and pleading their cases for months, write Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks in the Post.

THE TRUMP EFFECT: Donald Trump’s polling trouble could have a trickle-down effect for local Republicans seeking office, including the race for Senate between Rep. Chris Van Hollen and state Del. Kathy Szeliga, reports George Lettis for WBAL-TV.

PENSION RETURN FALLS SHORT: Maryland’s public pension system missed its annual target for returns by more than six percentage points in fiscal 2016, marking the second consecutive year that the retirement program fell short of its goal, Josh Hicks of the Post writes.

FCC PROBES BPD STINGRAY USE: Civil rights groups complained to the FCC Tuesday over the Baltimore Police Department’s use of the cell phone tracking technology known as stingray, alleging that the way police use it interferes with emergency calls and is racially discriminatory, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun.