Smoking Ordinance Amended In Resort

OCEAN CITY — Common sense prevailed this week when resort officials passed an amendment to the town’s smoking ban ordinance to include marijuana and vaping.

In the last month or so, it came to light the town’s no smoking ordinance as written had some gaps in it with regard to smoking marijuana and vaping in certain public areas including the beach and Boardwalk, except in designated areas. The proliferation of medical marijuana along with the decriminalization of possession of weed for personal consumption raised concern some might feel free to light up on the beach and Boardwalk, for example.

To that end, City Manager Doug Miller was tasked with exploring ways to address the gaps involving marijuana and vaping. Miller and his staff explored the ordinances of other jurisdictions around the country to determine how best to amend Ocean City’s ordinance on smoking in public.

Miller found an ordinance from San Mateo, California which addressed the marijuana and vaping issue and worked with the city solicitor to craft an amendment to the town’s existing smoking ban ordinance. On Monday, the new ordinance was unanimously approved on first reading by the Mayor and Council.

The amendment adds cannabis and vaping to the title of the town’s ordinance and includes additions to the definitions section to carefully spell out a prohibition on smoking marijuana and vaping throughout the resort including the beach and Boardwalk, parks and other public spaces.

“It is the intent of the Mayor and Council to protect the public from involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco, nicotine or cannabis smoke and vapor in certain areas open to the public,” the amended ordinance reads.

The amended ordinance approved on first reading on Monday clearly defines smoking as it applies to public areas throughout Ocean City.

“Smoking is the possession of a lighted or ignited tobacco, nicotine or marijuana product or paraphernalia, or engaging in an act that generates smoke,” the amended ordinance reads. “Smoking includes the use of any product which emits smoke in the form of gases, vapors or other by-products released by electronic cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes, herbal cigarettes, marijuana cigarettes and any other type of cigarette, pipe or other implement.”

The amended ordinance also clearly defines vaping to include all forms of the practice.

“Vaping is the heating of nicotine, cannabis or flavored aerosols, the active ingredients in which are vaporized and then released into the air in a fine mist created by a vaporizer device.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.