Easton, like many towns on the Mid-Shore, are now grappling with zoning decisions following the recent legalization of cannabis in the state. As of July 1st, recreational cannabis became legal, prompting discussions within the town’s planning commission. Their aim is to determine whether dispensaries, growers, and processors should be permitted in Easton. The commission commenced deliberations in June, which will continue in the coming months to form a recommendation for the town council.
While neighboring jurisdictions like Oxford and St. Michaels have imposed temporary moratoriums to study the issue, Easton faces a unique circumstance. New cannabis licenses will only be available from September, with issuance in January. This grants the town time to carefully consider zoning regulations. The planning commission intends to make progress throughout July and possibly August. However, if time becomes a constraint, implementing a moratorium is a possibility.
Other municipalities have enacted moratoriums lasting from nine months to a year. Easton has previously implemented moratoriums through ordinances on such things as “big box” stories, a process that takes time. Balancing the workload of the planning commission and consistency with neighboring areas is crucial. The town aims to avoid legal challenges by closely observing outcomes in Oxford and other towns.
Seeking guidance from the state and challenged jurisdictions will provide valuable insights. Additionally, the Maryland Municipal League is hosting a workshop in August, offering further information. Easton intends to make informed decisions by considering timeframes, monitoring existing moratoriums, and seeking guidance. The town seeks to establish well-rounded zoning regulations that satisfy the community while complying with legal requirements.
Here is a sample of the Easton Town Attorney Sharon Van Emburgh’s presentation to to the Council and some of the discussion that followed.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length.