‘Go slow and start low’: Montgomery Co. readies for impact of new statewide marijuana law

Gloved hands, putting trimmed CBD hemp flower weed buds in a storage glass jar, using tweezers.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/24K-Production)

The Maryland law allowing the purchase of marijuana for recreational use goes into effect on July 1, and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich talked about what that means for the county.

“We anticipate there are going to be circumstances when marijuana use could lead to some complaints about neighbors or people smoking in public,” Elrich said. While the odor may be annoying to some, Elrich added, “We don’t want residents calling 911.”

“Even though adults have the right to use marijuana, that doesn’t give you the right to expose others to it, especially children. This is no different from the approach we’ve taken with cigarette smoking,” Elrich said.

There are county restrictions on smoking in multifamily buildings and in or around playgrounds and common areas, for example. Elrich said renters who have complaints about the odor of marijuana in their buildings or properties should contact their landlords. Homeowners may contact the Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

What about public health issues related to the change in the law?

“The marijuana that folks are buying in dispensaries — this is not the same that you saw in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Kisha Davis said. “It is potent. So don’t just pick up where you left off,” especially if you last tried marijuana decades ago.

If you decide to buy and try smoking marijuana for the first time when it is allowed next month, Davis advised, “Go slow and start low.”

Davis noted the health benefits of medical marijuana in some specific cases, but brought up some effects that raise concerns.

Smoking marijuana can “lead to a chronic cough, chronic bronchitis and other issues,” she said, adding that marijuana use during pregnancy can have “detrimental effects to the baby.”

“Legal does not equal healthy,” Davis said.

Davis also urged parents to be sure to store marijuana out of the reach of children, especially gummies, which can be mistaken for candy.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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