The future of Carvel Hall is not best left with Elment MD


Everyone would like to see a vibrant, thriving business, preferentially a manufacturing business employing many local citizens at the Carvel Hall site.

How best to accomplish this? The City Council has reviewed 3 proposals. Most of the discussion has centered on Element MD, LLC and their plans to build a marijuana growing facility at Carvel Hall.

Please allow me to offer these opinions as to why this is not a viable choice for our town.

1) Marijuana is not medicine. It’s a recreational drug. Physicians can prescribe Marinol, or Cesamet, if there is a condition that they think might in some way possibly benefit from THC. They aren’t as effective or as well tolerated as other medications, but they are available, and they are medications. Marijuana is a very popular recreational drug, in high demand (pun intended). Marijuana can’t be prescribed. It can’t be purchased at a pharmacy. Like alcohol, it’s sold at a dispensary. No pharmacist will advise you on the health effects, only “Budtenders” to advise you on what kind of high you can expect. Legislatures that vote for “medical marijuana” are promoting a deception. Any proposal that starts as such a deception is unlikely to benefit our community.

2) Lawmakers have decided to legalize it because they think it will be a tax windfall for their states. It’s the same as Cigarettes or Alcohol. All 3 are recreational drugs, in high demand, and heavily taxed when sold to consumers. States who have legalized medical and recreational marijuana are learning — the tax dollars collected do not cover the increased cost of services that are needed to deal with the adverse effects of increased marijuana use. In time, those tax dollars will start shrinking — hard to distill your own moonshine, difficult to grow your own tobacco, but all you need is a grow light and a basement to cultivate your own weed. Those tax revenues will disappear like smoke on the wind.

3) It’s very clear that more marijuana sales will lead to more marijuana use by teens and children. It’s also very clear that marijuana causes damage to young developing brains, up to age 26. Fooling ourselves into thinking that approving marijuana use by those over age 21 won’t increase use by those younger than 21 goes against all we know about substance abuse. Community leaders, including the Crisfield City Council, should never promote the use of a substance that damages young minds. There is no consideration that is more important than this.

4) Crisfield relies on tourism for so much of our economy. Former citizens who now live elsewhere tell us, when they reveal their hometown is Crisfield, they are often asked “They have a bad drug problem down in Crisfield, don’t they?” I don’t think that is the impression we want to reinforce to potential visitors. I think we need to decide if we are a community that encourages, or discourages widespread recreational drug use. I don’t think we want to be the Marijuana Capital of Maryland.

5) Does the purchase of Carvel Hall by Element MD in 2021 make good business sense for Crisfield?

Information gathered from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission:
• Element MD has been “pre-approved” (not yet approved) for a marijuana processors license, award of such license subject to further investigation by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). If awarded, this marijuana processing will take place in their building in the Princess Anne industrial park.
• Friday, 2-13-2021, officials at the MMCC confirmed: all marijuana growers licenses for Maryland have been pre-approved, except for one.
• 96 applicants remain for that one license. All current applicants identify as economically disadvantaged, minority or women owned businesses.
• Support of State Senators is not a consideration in the approval process for any marijuana license.
• The previously pre-awarded growers licenses (3) are now disputed by an applicant who was not given pre-approval. This disagreement will eventually go to arbitration, but not before six months from now. No one knows how long arbitration will take. The last growers license will Not be pre-approved before arbitration is complete.

If the City Council votes to sell Carvel Hall to Element MD for growing marijuana — nothing will happen at Carvel Hall in 2021. Most likely, nothing will happen in 2022 either. Or 2023.

It’s 95 to 1 odds against Element MD to ever receive a marijuana grower’s license.
No grower’s license, no Element MD business at Carvel Hall.

We should not bet on Element MD, with those odds.
Sale of Carvel Hall to Element MD puts the property back in limbo. Nothing will happen. The City will be handcuffed, no further progress can occur. It’s often said, “nothing has happened there for 20 years”. It’s probably more accurate to say “it’s been through a lot of hands, but there hasn’t been a sustainable business employing residents there since CHI Inc. closed the place in 2001.” Let’s stop making the same mistakes that get us nowhere.

I believe the better business choice is — Vote to re-issue requests for proposals for Carvel Hall. All 3 applicants from November 2020 can re-apply if they choose. In 6 weeks or less, we can review all proposals. We have nothing to lose by requesting other proposals, and a great deal to lose by selling the property now to Element MD.

Throw back the fish that aren’t keepers. Cast our net, only much wider this time, in the right location, and let’s bring in a business that makes sense for our town.

— Dr. Mike Atkins is a member of the Crisfield City Council.

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