University of Baltimore Journal of Land and Development


Is green the new gold?1 Last year, the marijuana industry pulled in a whopping $2.4 billion.2 To put it in perspective that’s about 74% more than it did the year before.3 As of today, four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.4 But, more so, 23 states have decriminalized medical marijuana, including the State of Maryland in 2013.5

One of the most frequent legal issues in states with medical or recreational marijuana industries concerns where to locate marijuana distribution and production facilities.6 In Maryland, new law states that local municipalities shall determine the zoning and planning requirements of marijuana facilities.7 However, the generality of the rules leave them open to scrutiny.8 For instance, can a local government legally ban marijuana facilities from its municipality? And, if it cannot, what do appropriate zoning regulations look like?

The purpose of this article is to examine the regulations governing the zoning and planning requirements of growers, processors, and dispensaries in Maryland. The following analysis will elucidate some of the benefits medical marijuana can have on property values, while revealing some of its shortcomings. Additionally, it will explain the struggles local municipalities are faced with in drafting zoning regulations and propose a solution for future zoning regulation in this budding industry.