OC Council Prohibits On-Site Cannabis Consumption Establishments

OC Council Prohibits On-Site Cannabis Consumption Establishments
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Code amendments prohibiting the issuance of on-site cannabis consumption licenses passed on first reading this week.

On Tuesday, the Mayor and Council had before them two code amendments pertaining to on-site cannabis consumption. Deputy City Manager J.R. Harmon said the changes would not only prohibit the issuance of cannabis on-site consumption business licenses, but would establish penalties for any violations.

“I accordance with certain other provisions of Maryland law, Section 36-407 of the alcoholic beverage article specifically allows municipalities to prohibit the operation of on-site consumption establishments …,” he said. “The recommendation would be to approve the proposed code amendments for a first reading.”

On May 3, 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 last month essentially establishes an adult-use cannabis industry through the creation of tax rates and licensing framework.

“This legislation, among other things, expanded cannabis licensing within the Maryland annotated code,” Harmon told the council this week. “Section 36-401 of the alcoholic beverage article specifically created an on-site consumption license, which authorizes the holder of the license to operate a facility on the premise in which individuals can smoke outdoors, vape or consume cannabis.”

The code amendments presented to the Mayor and Council this week would essentially prohibit the operation of on-site consumption establishments within the town’s corporate limits.

“Ocean City finds that in order to promote and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare, a prohibition of the operation of on-site consumption establishments and the prohibition to the issuance of any license that would permit on-site consumption of Cannabis is just and proper,” the amendment reads. “Ocean City finds that it is within its right, as a political subdivision, to prohibit the operation and licensing of on-site consumption establishments.”

The amendments also include fine of no less than $25 and no more than $1,000 for any violation.

“This proposed ordinance adds Article 10, on-site consumption establishments, to Chapter 14 and prohibits the issuance of on-site consumption license within city limits,” Harmon said. “The companion ordinance outlines penalties associated with violations of Article 10.”

With no further discussion, the council voted 7-0 to approve the code amendments on first reading.

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.