Baltimore Social Cannabis Club Wins Zoning Appeal

front proposed social cannabis club baltimore maryland site photo

Above is the site on N Bond St where the first social cannabis club in Baltimore will open after the owners won their appeal to the Baltimore Municipal Zoning & Appeals Board today! The club, which is not yet named, will take up the 2nd and 3rd floors above Sir Duke Liquors, a liquor store/bar on the corner of Bond & Aliceanna.

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To receive city approval, the owners forfeited the license to serve alcohol on the second & third floors. The club will be limited to Maryland state-registered medical marijuana patients only. They also made several other voluntary concessions.

Social Cannabis Club Stipulations!

  • Additional cameras around the building tied to Baltimore’s City Watch program (smile for Big Brother!)
  • No storage of cannabis or paraphernalia on site- kind of a bummer, it’d be cool to keep your bong or vaporizer there
  • Limits to how much medical marijuana each patient can bring in
  • Operating hours limited to same as the local bars, must be closed by 2am
  • receptionist on hand to verify MMCC registration during guest check-in
  • Club members will have to agree to club bylaws regarding proper conduct while on premises and in the neighborhood; these will be submitted to the Zoning Board prior to opening

Background

The owners have been working with the Fells Point Resident Association to assuage any fears or concerns about the operation. After four separate presentations to the community, their plan received unanimous approval. Their council presented a letter to prove it.

I chatted briefly with Ibrahim Sheikh, one of the owners, about their vision for a social cannabis club. Ibrahim spoke of an Amsterdam-style coffeeshop, where patients could take their medicine and enjoy fresh baked goods. Presumably coffee, too? Yaaaas queen!

Further, they’re bringing in contacts from New York’s restaurant scene to help design the club. Expect a very modern, hip, and upscale atmosphere. They also have plans to host educational workshops on site.

stairs proposed social cannabis club baltimore maryland site photo

Community Opposition

Still, there was opposition at today’s hearing. The Baltimore Police Department made their recommendations, such as explicitly disallowing guests. Many of these were already incorporated in the club’s proposal.

Ultimately, the city’s law enforcement raised no objection. Neither did the Planning Commission or the Housing Commission.

One Fells Point resident did object. She brought with her letters signed by another 9 residents that didn’t come in person. She declined to meet with the club owners just prior to the hearing and stated that she hadn’t been able to attend any of the four presentations.

Her main concern was about the smell, which she felt would impact her family’s ability to enjoy their backyard and keep the windows open.

She also expressed concerns about crime. When asked for specifics by board member Avery Strachan, she cited patients loitering outside of the club and people driving after consuming cannabis.

She questioned what types of people this club would bring to Fells Point. I slumped down in my chair and rolled my eyes so hard I nearly gave myself a stroke. I swear, you can’t take me anywhere.

If you’re gonna badmouth me, my friends, & all the other patients that need a safe place to medicate to local authorities, I mean. About six out of ten Americans supports marijuana legalization at last count.

Even discounting a significant percent of supporters that don’t use cannabis themselves, are you saying like half the population are all criminals? Lowlives? Second-class? Sorry, this sort of insult makes my shoulder-chip itch.

Zoning Board Reaction

Board Member James Fields pointed out that Fells Point had a ton of bars literally a block away from her house. She couldn’t raise a convincing counter-argument. Something about expecting people to know their limits and conduct themselves accordingly.

Sure, that sounds exactly like the scene I see out in Fells every weekend. A bunch of well-composed bar patrons. Mmhmm.

corner view proposed social cannabis club baltimore maryland site photo

And this was pretty much decided already anyway. Another Zoning board member, Frank Bonaventure, let the others know that due diligence had been completed and there isn’t any concern about breaking federal law.

Baltimore has a good deal of autonomy in its affairs, as I learned from mayoral candidate Vignarajah, who wants to legalize recreational marijuana sales ahead of Maryland state.

Baltimore police don’t have a problem with the club, so any additional crime concerns are really just paranoia, no? Also important, the resident association had given their blessing.

If, as this woman claimed, “the association doesn’t represent everybody,” then you need to elect new leadership. That’s politics, baby!

Zoning Board Appeal Approved!

The Zoning Board addressed the opposition’s concerns nonetheless. The Board added the additional stipulation that complaints would be monitored to its approval. If they receive numerous complaints, the Board retains the right to reassess the operation.

Ibrahim Sheikh and his partner readily agreed to all terms. The first social cannabis club is coming to Baltimore. I couldn’t be more excited! A place I can medicate safely without worrying about disturbing my neighbors…and build a community with new friends. Yes! I like the sound of that.

10/8: added some words and did some artful rearranging. I was in a hurry to get the scoop, baby! No context changed. -GT

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