June 14 – With the state law in Maryland legalizing recreational marijuana going into effect on July 1, municipalities have the option to opt out – something Ocean City decided to do on Monday.
A number of people are wondering what Hagerstown might do with the new law. Whatever decision is made, it will have to be done before July 1.
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “It doesn’t mean you’re breaking the law necessarily, if he would just come through with it, but it won’t be sold, it won’t be tolerated as a regular exposing on the street type of thing. I think it’s smart to give the municipalities that kind of flexibility because Ocean City’s bills itself was very family friendly. We know places where recreational marijuana is allowed, you hear about it in New York City all the time, the constant smell of marijuana smoke and do we want that as a public sort of display? They chose that for themselves.”
Mayor Tekesha Martinez of the City of Hagerstown said, “I haven’t heard anything, haven’t got anything for or against when it comes to recreational marijuana. I also agree, I think that giving the municipalities the power to choose is actually great. Municipalities, what I’m learning is, they don’t have a lot of power sometimes. And the law is the law and then you have to kind of craft your municipal laws and ordinances around that, but we’re special too. I think that when you think about small places like St. Michaels, they’re tourist-driven, and special spots. I think that if it was coming in, and it’s something that the body would have definitely discussed and went along with what the majority was saying.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “If that is a concern to you, you still can get this done. Thumbs up, thumbs down, wherever you land on recreational marijuana. I’m thinking you’ve got a baseball stadium coming in here. There’s a lot of family friendly push here and is there an appetite in Hagerstown with counsel, to say, you know what recreational marijuana maybe doesn’t make doesn’t have a place? Because it’s got to be done before July 1, or it’s over.”
Jansen added, “There’s tax considerations and the revenue that could come in from that as well. So there are the pluses and minuses and they should be weighed out, thoughtfully. I don’t know, maybe some of those state legislators didn’t make us all aware of that as much as they should have because it feels like Ocean City was paying strict attention to it. That’s making me question whether it was really broadcast well enough that people were made aware.”
Martinez and the Hagerstown Council had a work session yesterday afternoon.
She said, “We had two public hearings that we went back over and a lot of development happening. When it comes to water, water pressure and those types of things, those were conversations we had. And then also, there’s this thing with developments happening in the schools. And whose responsibility is that to make sure that there’s enough schools and there’s enough space for that for the kids and the families coming into their community?”
Ryan said, “What was the outcome of that conversation about schools? Because that’s an expensive conversation.”
Martinez said, “One of our council members is very, very adamant and talking about our city code around open space too. So looking at the development, looking to see if there’s enough open space if you’re developing and you’re putting 300 to 400 homes or 300 to 400 apartments, do you have enough open space as well? I mean, you don’t think that’s the most important stuff that you sit down and talk about when you’re talking about the city, but those are very important things.”
With additional housing, schools are also needed.
Martinez said, “And where do you put them? And what’s the plan on that? Another thing is jobs. You have developments but as the mayor of the city, my concern is the jobs in the city that people can get to.”