Baltimore County is looking into the possibility of setting restrictions in place for hemp farms. After months of local people complaining about a farm near Lutherville-Timonium, the city’s authorities are looking into solutions to the problem.
Wade Kach, the Cockeysville County Councilman has introduced legislation that would prevent hemp facilities from being located within 2,000 feet of a residential property and require harvesting facilities be at least 500 feet from the property line on the farm. These facilities would also have to be at least 2 miles away from others. If passed the new legislation would take effect as soon as October 19.
One of the concerns from citizens is the health risks locals face by inhaling fumes from hemp fields. They are unhappy about the smell that is present around these farms from late summer until November. Some residents claim that the odor aggravated preexisting conditions like asthma.
“There are some health concerns with the hemp and the people who may have asthma or respiratory problems, so I want to find out why the federal government and the state government is talking about these 1,000-foot setbacks and wondering why it’s for schools and parks but not residences,” Kach told the press. “If you’re going to open a brewery or a distillery in Baltimore County, you get your permission from the state of Maryland, but on the county level you have to go through the special exception process as well, so this is the same thing. It gives the neighbors an opportunity to give their comments and concerns.”
Farming advocates, however, are in an uproar over how the bill would push farms out of the county. They look at the special permissions that farmers would have to get before planting hemp and are skeptical that farmers would be able to get that permission without a tremendous amount of effort.
“In a state like Maryland where development pressure is so high, once you start choosing alternatives to farming, you never go back to farming,” said Kevin Atticks of Grow & Fortify. “No one ever un-develops, and that’s a big concern with this bill.”