by Sue Ann Rybak
Councilwoman Cherelle Parker has filed an appeal challenging the proposed medical marijuana dispensary at the two-story commercial building at 8319-25 Stenton Avenue in East Mt. Airy, after residents voiced strong opposition to it at a packed public zoning meeting she held on April 25 at the Oxford Presbyterian Church.
“Over 400 people attended the meeting, and even though we learned that a fraction of them were bused in from other communities intent on disrupting the meeting, I thought the tone was respectful and people were able to voice their opinions,” she said in an email. “It was not a debate about the merits of medical marijuana – which the community and I both support – but was solely to discuss the proposed use as it relates to the location in question.”
In a telephone interview with the Local, Chris Visco, one of the partners seeking to open the marijuana dispensary said 9th District Councilwoman Cherelle Parker invited her and her business partner Adina Birnbaum to the community meeting to discuss building the Terra Vida Holistic Center’s medical marijuana dispensary and the benefits of medical marijuana.
Visco said that after Parker arrived at the meeting, however, she announced that her office was not going to allow them “to lecture them on the benefits of medical marijuana.” She said Parker told them the primary purpose of the meeting on April 25 was to discuss zoning and land use.
“We were unable to speak about the value of medical marijuana as it relates to patients and for whom in the community it would benefit the most,” Visco said. “The focus of our presentation was to be the value of the medicine, the fact that it was not ‘pot to be smoked,’ would not bring crime to the area because