By Remy Andersen, Staff Writer
(Sept. 14, 2023) Multiple provisions related to cannabis consumption can advance, following three separate unanimous votes from the Worcester County Commissioners last week.
The votes included one for zoning, one for distancing, and one for on-site consumption.
Jennifer Keener, the county’s director of Developmental Review and Permitting, presented the proposed cannabis regulations to the commissioners, as the county prepares for the arrival of more cannabis license holders.
The state currently implements conversion licenses for existing medical cannabis license holders and are also accepting new applications this fall.
Keener first recommended that the same zoning approach that was put in place in 2017 be applied to medical cannabis establishments. The agricultural usage of growing the cannabis plant is permitted by right, as well as the industrial usage of the plant’s processing and the retail usage of the sale of the product at dispensaries. These establishments would undergo the same review process as similar non-cannabis facilities.
In regards to on-site cannabis consumption, the commissioners voted to prohibit the operation of on-site consumption establishments.
Keener stated in a memo that the law currently requires new dispensaries to be distanced 500 feet from a pre-existing primary or secondary school, a licensed childcare center or registered family childcare home, a playground, recreation center, library or public park. The law also stated that new dispensaries be distanced 1,000 feet from another licensed dispensary. These would also not be applied to existing dispensaries.
The 500-foot distance was questioned by commissioners Joe Mitrecic and Madison Bunting, who proposed that this distance be changed to 1,000 feet.
Mitrecic had also inquired about the distance between Hi Tide Dispensary and Ocean City Elementary School. Keener estimated that it was about half a mile.
The commissioners ultimately agreed to increase the distance stated in the law from 500 feet to 2,000 feet.