Pr. George’s Council introduces legislation to restrict dispensaries

Jul 11, 2023

Just days after recreational marijuana became legal for adult use, local lawmakers moved to restrict where shops that sell it can operate in Prince George’s County — a first in the state that elicited criticism from county business owners.

The bill, proposed by four county council members, would restrict cannabis businesses to industrial zones, mandate that they be 2,500 feet away from land for day care or school uses and require building-mounted signs. As written, it would not grandfather in the county’s handful of existing shops, which has stirred uncertainty among dispensary owners.
The proposal mirrors one winding its way through the legislative process that similarly clamps down on smoke shops — part of an effort council members say is intended to alleviate the concerns of residents who say they have grown tired of streets lined with smoke shops and 24-hour convenience stores selling tobacco products.
Co-sponsor Krystal Oriadha (D-District 7) said in an interview that those concerns extend to the burgeoning businesses of cannabis dispensaries, and that the council intends to make a slow development approach instead of doing nothing.
“Some communities will not have to worry about this, but the quality of stores we get are not the same,” she said. “Questions of quality and oversaturation come up.”
The council will consider grandfathering in existing dispensaries when it reconvenes in the fall, she added. Democratic council members Edward Burroughs III (District 8), Wala Blegay (District 6) and Eric C. Olson (District 3) also sponsored the bill.
Anthony McAuliffe, deputy communications director for county executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) said the office is still reviewing the legislation and has not yet taken a position on it.
Maryland became the 21st state to make recreational cannabis sales legal. Legalization allowed for customers 21 and older with government-issued identification to purchase THC products such as edibles, pre-rolled joints and dried flower as of July 1. The first weekend for cannabis legalization brought in more than $10.4 million in total retail sales for medical and adult use, according to the Maryland Cannabis Administration.
While the industry’s potential expansion in the county would satisfy a need for Prince George’s to expand its commercial tax base, elected officials say they must balance that need with residents’ wishes for quality growth.
You could read more of this Washington Post article here.