State Roundup, July 6, 2017

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1st RX POT DISPENSARY APPROVED: Regulators approved Maryland’s first medical marijuana dispensary on Wednesday, authorizing a Frederick company to open its doors immediately even though the drug will not be available for months, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. The Wellness Institute of Maryland plans to start seeing patients Thursday and take what owner Michael Kline called “pre-orders” for cannabis.

STUMBLING RX POT PANEL: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is stumbling and bumbling its way toward creating a medical marijuana system for the state, after more than four years of on-again, off-again efforts.  … The commission has failed miserably in its sole mission, which was to help people in this state afflicted with chronic and disabling pain to gain legal access to a medicine that might be able to help them.

VOTE SYSTEM CONTRACT MODIFIED: State election officials told the Board of Public Works Wednesday that they had underestimated by $1.6 million the cost of maintaining Maryland’s voting system. The board, minus Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who was not in attendance, voted 2-0 to approve the contract modification, largely to cover the cost of four employees whose salaries were underestimated by roughly 3,000 hours, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.

MGM CASINO UP, OTHERS DOWN: Ryan Sharrow of the BBJ reports that Maryland casinos generated $130.5 million in June as MGM National Harbor again led the way after opening in December. Excluding MGM, state casino revenue decreased by 13.9% in June compared with a year before. Including MGM, casino revenue rose 39.8%.

DIVIDED MARYLAND PART 5: In rural Maryland, where people are dying faster than they are being replaced, creating jobs, enticing new industries and rebuilding infrastructure matters little if there’s no one around to fill those jobs, drive on those new roads or enjoy those renovated downtowns.Cities like Salisbury, Frederick and Cumberland — small urban anchors in Maryland’s rural areas — could be where the revitalization begins. JF Meils of CNS writes the story for MarylandReporter.

ADDICTION RECOVERY CENTER: Arelis Hernandez of the Post profiles Champ House, an addiction recovery center in Anne Arundel County founded by Paul Champagne in 1990. Champagne was a recovering alcoholic who invited other alcoholics to live in his house so they could all help each other. As the addiction crisis moved to heroin, the home’s mission has changed.

ICE ACTION CONCERNS BIZ HEADS: Hispanic and other Maryland business leaders are expressing concern after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement inquiry led 30 employees of The BoatHouse in Canton to resign last month, Christine Condon of the Daily Record reports. ICE requested the restaurant’s I-9 forms, which require employees to provide identification and proof of employment eligibility. Employees cannot knowingly hire someone who fail to provide this documentation.

POLS FLOCK TO ANNAPOLIS PARADE: The Annapolis Capital reports that the Annapolis 4th of July Parade, like many others, drew a slew of politicians. Besides Mayor Mike Pantelides, who showed up in several places at the parade, other elected politicians or their representatives on hand included Democratic candidates for mayor state Sen. John Astle and Gavin Buckley, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a group of House Speaker Michael Busch supporters – Busch is still recovering from recent surgery, Ron George, who is seeking to replace Astle, Del. Tony McConkey and  members of the city council.

MO CO SOLAR ARRAY: Montgomery County officials Wednesday celebrated the completion of the county’s largest solar project—an event that marked the latest development in the ongoing effort to generate renewable energy at county facilities, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. The new arrays at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds are capable of generating 3.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year or about 60% of the facility’s annual electrical usage.

CYBER SECURITY INITIATIVE: Citing a desire to support local cybersecurity enterprises, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. has announced a new initiative that seeks to connect those businesses with financing and mentorship, Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports. Announcement of the Arundel Defense Tech Toolbox came two days before another county-sponsored business boosting program, the Chesapeake Innovation Center in Odenton, closed its doors.

TRUMP SALARY TO HELP RESTORATION: Jonathan Pitts of the Sun writes that U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Wednesday that President Donald J. Trump’s salary for the first quarter of 2017 — $78,333 — will go toward a pair of restoration and maintenance projects in Maryland, among others.