It’s been interesting to observe Ocean City anticipating the changes of July 1 on marijuana legalization. The stance has been to be proactive and careful with perceived consequences of the state’s new direction.
Being a beach resort full of people of all ages, Ocean City officials are wise to apply scrutiny and buy some time with a nine-month moratorium. The ordinance reads, “the Town considers the public interest to be best served by the adoption of zoning and licensing code amendments and regulations that establish appropriate locations for facilities for growing, processing and selling of cannabis; and … the town requires additional time to undertake appropriate study and obtain desired public input before establishing effective Town ordinances and other necessary regulations applicable to businesses engaging in the growing, processing and/or selling of cannabis…” The moratorium was approved at the same meeting an ordinance was approved prohibiting on-site cannabis consumption within city limits.
All these moves may appear hasty, but they are necessary after the state created regulations to allow individuals 21 years and older to purchase cannabis products legally from licensed dispensaries that convert their licenses. Additionally, there are numerous changes to the amount of pot a person can carry without ramifications. What the law did not do was make smoking cannabis legal in public places or in motor vehicles.
The immediate issue for local governments is whether to allow pot smoking in businesses. In Ocean City, two code amendments were introduced in the spring to specifically tackle on-site cannabis consumption. The state legislation allows municipalities to pass specific amendments to its code to prevent on-site marijuana use.
Worcester County and Berlin governments have also discussed moves related to the state’s decision regarding on-site consumption. These are smart processes to undertake.