NEWS
Record Shop Owners Push to Open Maryland’s First Cannabis Consumption Lounge
While Maryland is yet to approve any social consumption lounges, these record store owners are still trying to open a members-only club featuring classes, seminars, and plenty of pot for medical patients.
Published on July 16, 2019

Like most states with medical-only cannabis legalization, finding a place to properly consume legal weed in Maryland is incredibly difficult. While homeowners are allowed to spark up inside, renters are at the whim of their landlord’s smoking policies. And if you live in federally subsidized housing, the options are even slimmer, with no legal safe spaces to consume at all. For Baltimore record store owners Bryan and Andrea Burkert, the issue is so glaring that they’re stepping up to fix it — just as long as city officials let them.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Burkerts, owners of the independent record store Sound Garden, are looking to add another business to Charm City’s Falls Point neighborhood: Maryland’s first proposed medical marijuana consumption lounge.

“At first, I was intrigued by it, but apprehensive about the application and if it could actually work. And as we started to look at it a little more closely, I thought it was worth at least the attempt,” Bryan Burkert told the Sun.

To fit within Maryland law, the proposed pot club would need to be a members-only space with recurring dues payments, including vigorous security to ensure that only state-licensed medical marijuana patients consume on-site. If approved, the Burkerts say that they hope to use the space for more than just medicating, with plans to host yoga classes, cannabis information sessions, and cooking demos for members.  

“With most of my businesses, I don’t really dwell on whether it’s going to make a lot of money, I just kind of go with a gut feeling,” Burkert said. “I really liked this idea… as an opportunity to really create a cool space. We can do so many different things with this space.”

As long as the Burkerts follow the rules for a private club and do not break any of the state medical marijuana consumption laws in the process, the members-only space would not require any specific license from local cannabis regulators. But since this is the first proposal of its kind in the state, the Baltimore City Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals has taken its sweet time reviewing their application. 

The typical zoning approval process takes only 30 days, but Burkerts’ cannabis consumption lounge has been in limbo for almost seven months. After asking when officials would submit a final ruling, City Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals Executive Director Derek Baumgardner told the Sun, “We don’t know.”

Sound Garden, the independent record store, has been open since 1993, and it’s still thriving in the face of endless challenges and change. So if there’s anyone who can bring another community hub to the neighborhood, we’re pretty confident the Burkerts are the couple to get it done.

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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