One of the most crucial steps to consider when attempting to establish a cannabis business is gaining a full understanding of the zoning laws in that state. 

These laws regulate the cultivation, distribution, and sale of cannabis products within a jurisdiction and are crucial for public health and safety, land use planning, and limiting nuisances like noise, odor, crimes, and many more.

Let’s discuss some of the crucial details.

What’s New in Cannabis Zoning Laws in Maryland?

The Maryland General Assembly aims to ease up the zoning requirements that municipalities and counties have set for cannabis dispensaries and other businesses.

As the state prepares to issue a significant number of new licenses after just issuing 174 in the previous application window (July 1, 2023) with a focus on social equity, there were reports of certain counties employing unconventional zoning strategies to bypass cannabis laws. [1]

For instance, county officials have resorted to measures such as establishing tiny libraries to block the establishment of cannabis dispensaries. 

This raises concerns about the circumvention of zoning restrictions outlined in Maryland’s cannabis regulations, which permit local governments to ban dispensaries within 500 feet of schools, daycares, and public parks. [2]

Such unconventional zoning approaches have implications for cannabis real estate and cannabis businesses in the state.

According to the Senate Finance Committee Chair Pamela Beidle, “There is a great deal of concern that if we make the zoning burdensome, and dispensaries cannot come into counties, that the illicit trade will continue.” [3]

All You Need to Know About the Cannabis Zoning Regulations in Maryland

With recreational cannabis being legal in Maryland and over 100 medical cannabis dispensaries switching to legal recreational sales, the cannabis industry in the state is about to witness a solid boost.

Maryland will be issuing over 6 dozen new cannabis business licenses in the next application window in 2024 [4] and here’s all you need to know about the laws before investing in cannabis real estate in the state.

  • Local Control: Local governments in Maryland have authority over zoning rules for cannabis businesses, but recent legislation has limited their ability to impose excessive restrictions.
  • Striking a Balance: Legislation such as Senate Bill 537 aims to balance local control and fair regulations by altering distance restrictions and prohibiting zoning rules that hinder dispensary operations.
  • Dispensary Spacing: Maryland requires a minimum distance of 1,000 feet between cannabis dispensaries to avoid clustering.
  • Sensitive Area Restrictions: Dispensaries must be at least 500 feet away from childcare centers, playgrounds, schools, and other sensitive areas.  [5]
  • Buffer Extension: The Senate has voted to extend the buffer distance from 1,000 feet to half a mile.
  • Fair Treatment: Political subdivisions cannot impose disproportionately higher fees or requirements on cannabis licensees compared to other businesses in the same area [6].
  • Transportation and Deliveries: Local governments cannot prevent transportation or deliveries by cannabis establishments located outside their jurisdiction.
  • Dispensary Proximity: House Bill 805 and Senate Bill 537 propose changes to allow cannabis dispensaries to operate near liquor stores.

These measures reflect the current and ongoing efforts to establish reasonable zoning regulations that facilitate the operation of cannabis businesses while ensuring compliance with community concerns and public safety.

How to Find Compliant Zones for Your Cannabis Business in Maryland

Amid the tussle between the state government and municipalities, you can still find profitable green zones to establish your business in the Maryland cannabis market. Here’s what you need to do:

Finding compliant zones for your cannabis business in Maryland requires careful research and understanding of the state’s cannabis regulations. Here are steps to help you identify suitable locations:

1. Familiarize Yourself with State Laws

Start by thoroughly reviewing Maryland’s cannabis laws and regulations. Understand the specific zoning requirements, buffer distances, and any other restrictions that apply to cannabis businesses. The Maryland Cannabis Administration provides valuable information regarding this.

2. Research Local Zoning Ordinances

Each county or municipality in Maryland has zoning restrictions for cannabis businesses that further regulate cannabis businesses. Research and study these local zoning regulations to understand where cannabis establishments are permitted and any additional requirements or limitations imposed.

3. Contact Local Planning Departments

Contact the planning departments of the counties or municipalities where you want your cannabis business. They can provide valuable information about zoning maps, permitted zones, and any pending zoning changes or updates related to cannabis.

4. Identify Suitable Zoning Designations

Identify zoning designations that allow for cannabis businesses. Look for zones such as industrial, commercial, or mixed-use that may permit cannabis cultivation, processing, or retail operations. Pay attention to any specific zoning overlays or districts that may be relevant to the cannabis industry.

5. Consider Buffer Distances

Don’t forget the required buffer distances from sensitive areas such as schools, childcare centers, and parks. Ensure your potential location meets these distance requirements to comply with state regulations.

6. Engage with Real Estate Professionals

Collaborate with real estate professionals who understand the cannabis industry or local market conditions. They can provide insights into available properties that align with the zoning requirements for cannabis businesses.

7. Community Engagement

It’s important to consider community dynamics and public sentiment towards cannabis businesses. Connect with local officials in community organizations, attend public meetings, and seek feedback from residents to gauge community support and potential challenges.

8. Due Diligence

Conduct thorough due diligence on potential properties, including site visits, inspections, and assessments of factors like accessibility, infrastructure, and security. Ensure the property meets all requirements for your specific type of cannabis business.

9. Have Legal Backing

Speak with legal professionals specializing in cannabis law and compliance to ensure you navigate the complex regulatory landscape effectively.

Finding compliant zones for your cannabis business in Maryland requires a comprehensive understanding of state and local regulations, diligent research, and collaboration with experts. Follow these steps diligently.

Are You Looking for Business-Friendly Cannabis Green Zones for Your Business?

If you’re searching for a cannabis real estate company to help you find business-friendly cannabis green zones in Maryland, partner with Zoned Properties, a reputable and experienced firm.

With years of expertise in site identification, brokerage, and investment management, we will help you gracefully maneuver zoning regulations and find suitable properties for your cannabis business.

Send us a message today and we’ll connect you to a property you’ll love.