US (MD): Counties weigh zoning restrictions in advance of cannabis dispensary expansion

County leaders are being warned to be reasonable when considering using zoning to restrict cannabis businesses.

The warning comes as the Maryland Cannabis Administration is about to open the application window for a social equity round of licenses that will award more than six dozen new dispensary licenses. Some county officials are frustrated by what they see as a vagary in the state law or a usurpation of local control of land use, the Maryland Association of Counties called for a measured approach when it comes to zoning.

“So, there have been all kinds of proposals that are sort of wacky and out there in terms of how to skirt this law. …Maybe we could put up a bunch of tiny libraries all over the county, and that’s a library so we don’t have to allow a dispensary nearby," said Kevin Kinnally, the association’s legislative director. “That’s not going to fly. It’s not going to fly. It’s not going to work. And it actually makes things more difficult dealing with the legislature in my mind, because when they see things like that, they tend to come down with a pretty heavy hand and we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re further preempted. So, I would ask everyone to please try and stay within reason.”

The state is on the cusp of a dramatic expansion of its cannabis industry. Currently, there are 101 licensed dispensaries in the state. The licenses are distributed relatively equally across 47 legislative districts.


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