Following suit with other local beach towns, residents and visitors shouldn’t expect to see marijuana-related businesses pop up in Rehoboth Beach anytime soon.
In response to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Delaware a few months ago, city commissioners broached the issue in June. At the time, City Manager Laurence Christian said he brought it forward to begin the discussion and gauge commissioners’ opinions.
During a workshop July 10, commissioners continued discussing the topic with an agenda that included items about smoking marijuana in public places; the operation of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities; and retail stores. None of the commissioners spoke in favor of anything on that list.
Mayor Stan Mills said he would be in favor of an ordinance prohibiting all marijuana-related businesses.
“I’m not a smoker or a toker,” he said.
Commissioner Patrick Gossett pointed out that other beach communities – Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island, Ocean City, Md., – have all decided they don’t want it. If Rehoboth left it open, the city could end up being ground zero, he said.
Dewey officials said they didn’t want to mess with it because they already have their hands full with bars and alcohol, said Gossett. That might not be Rehoboth’s problem, but there are issues in town and adding marijuana wouldn’t help, he said.
Commissioner Toni Sharp said she’s open to listening if someone has a solid case, but to date she hasn’t thought of, or been presented with, a compelling reason for why the city should change the status quo. It’s not keeping in the character of the city, and that’s pretty cut and dried, she said.
Commissioner Jay Lagree said he’s concerned about use by teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a big section about how it's bad for teens, which is his concern, he said.
Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski recognizes that people coming into Rehoboth will likely be able to purchase marijuana in all its forms on Route 1 in the future. It’s not like somebody can’t eat a gummy and go for a walk on the Boardwalk, he said.
Scubee’s CBD Boutique owner Stephen Provost said he recognizes that smoking flower is one thing, but he encouraged commissioners to consider other alternatives. More than 50% of marijuana-related products are consumed by methods other than smoking, he said.
He said commissioners are lumping the whole industry into one group, and there is a respectable way to pursue this. It’s no longer about the devil’s weed or about weed being evil, he said.
Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carol Everhart said the chamber was on the record against the legalization, and over the past couple of weeks, she said she’s heard reports of marijuana smoke all over the place, especially on the Boardwalk and the first block.
Following the discussion, Mills said there will likely be a draft ordinance presented at the August workshop, with a possible vote at the August meeting.
Sharp asked how the city will enforce rules in the meantime.
Christian said state law still applies. All an ordinance does is codify the city’s code to match state law as it is in case it gets changed down the road, he said.