Resort To Discuss Cannabis Reform Bill’s Impact

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials are expected to discuss the state’s new cannabis reform bill and the on-site consumption of marijuana.

In last week’s meeting of the Mayor and Council, City Manager Terry McGean presented officials with a tentative agenda for the May 30 work session. Among the discussion points, he said, is the on-site consumption of cannabis license.

Earlier this month, Gov. Wes Moore signed Maryland’s cannabis reform bill into law, paving the way for recreational sales beginning July 1.

In the November election, two-thirds of voters supported a state referendum to legalize recreational marijuana. The legislation signed into law this month essentially establishes an adult-use cannabis industry through the creation of tax rates and licensing framework.

In an interview last week, McGean said the council will specifically talk about cannabis sales and on-site consumption measures contained in the bill. While a municipality cannot establish zoning or other requirements that create an undue burden to a cannabis licensee, it can choose to either authorize, prohibit or place restrictions on on-site consumption.

“We will discuss that and if the council wants to allow it or ban it,” he said.

The topic was also discussed at last week’s Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville said the issue would soon be discussed by the Mayor and Council.

“The state code has some language in there that local jurisdictions can adopt exclusion zones for cannabis sales for recreational use,” he said. “The council is about to consider that.”

Neville noted that the issue would also need the commission’s consideration in the coming weeks.

“The reason I’m mentioning this to the planning commission is that we may be in a position to put some standards in the zoning ordinance which creates the scenario of coming to the planning commission for a public hearing or recommendation to the council …,” he said. “Because the state law kicks in in July, we may be in a race in the next month or so to hold a hearing and consider that issue … It is something that may be controlled through zoning ordinance sections.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.