Myrtle Beach City Council is going to ban the opening of any new smoke shops in Myrtle Beach or vape stores in city limits.

Presumably, the ban will be lifted after “city planning officials study future zoning options for smoking-centric businesses.” Where is the best place to put the smoke shops in Myrtle Beach to protect citizens and visitors?

Wait, do we need to be protected from smoke shops?

Last year, the City banned all smoke shops and vape shops on Ocean Boulevard between 6th Avenue South and 16th Avenue North. What does this mean for vape stores and smoke shops? Are smoke shops and stores that sell CBD products a public safety issue?

Are Vape Stores and Smoke Shops in Myrtle Beach a Danger to Public Health?

In the ordinance passed by City Council, a moratorium is imposed on granting new permits for smoke shops in Myrtle Beach including all tobacco, vape, and CBD stores within city limits.

Why? The City thinks that vapes stores and smoke shops in Myrtle Beach are a danger to the community’s public health, safety, and welfare:

Whereas, in the City Council’s judgment, negative public safety impacts have resulted from the proliferation of the defined uses herein, certain oversized or concentrated land uses that have a disproportionate negative impact on the public economy, police services, and business diversity, thereby posing a danger and threat to the public health, safety and welfare through their negative impact, and that certain current zoning allowances as to concentrations are incompatible with long range economic health and quality of police protection of the area as family oriented destination…

Are these stores a public health hazard?

If you don’t think that people should use vape products or CBD products, you may think they are a public health hazard. But the products are legal, and no one is forcing you to go into the store, buy them, and use them.

Is the City calling them a public health hazard (the language is included to attempt to get around any constitutional challenges to the City’s ordinance) because they are dangerous or because City officials want to impose their morals and beliefs on other people?

How Are Vape Shops and CBD Stores a Public Health Danger?

At previous City Council meetings, examples given of “dangerous” materials sold in Myrtle Beach smoke shops included:

  • T-shirts that contained messages that are protected by the First Amendment;
  • CBD oil products that are legal under SC law; and
  • Synthetic marijuana, which is illegal – if synthetic marijuana is found in a store the owner of the store should probably be arrested and prosecuted for violating the controlled substances laws. That’s not a zoning issue nor is it a reason to prevent new businesses from opening.

There is no justification in the ordinance for claiming that the businesses are a public health hazard – other reasons cited in the ordinance include:

The stores are incompatible with long-term economic health.

That’s a vague statement – what do they mean?

Vape stores will hurt the area economically? Are they going to affect the income of other local businesses? What evidence is there of that?

The stores are incompatible with the quality of police protection in the area.

Again, what does this even mean?

Are vape stores, tobacco stores, and stores that sell CBD oils somehow interfering with law enforcement? How do these business owners negatively impact “the quality of police protection in the area?”

We are left guessing. Do they think that smoke shops in Myrtle Beach attract criminals? Harbor criminals? If that is what they are saying, it doesn’t make sense – I am pretty sure smoke shops in Myrtle Beach attract people who use vape products. Those people are not criminals – vape products and CBD products are legal and there is nothing inherently criminal about them.

… As a family-oriented destination

I agree that Myrtle Beach is and should be a family-oriented destination.

But vape shops, CBD oil products, and smoke shops in Myrtle Beach don’t impact the family-oriented atmosphere of the Beach at all. It’s a place where moms and dads can go to get their vape, smoke, and CBD products – that’s family oriented, right?

How does a store that sells vape supplies make a place not-family-oriented?

Or is family-oriented code for “I don’t approve of vaping, I don’t want my kids to see it, therefore your family should not vape?” Who’s family does family-oriented refer to?

Do Existing Smoke Shops in Myrtle Beach Need to Close?

Existing vape shops and tobacco stores are not affected by the new ordinance – only new businesses that are applying for permits.

New businesses are also unaffected if they sell tobacco products in a space that is the lesser of 2 percent of their gross floor area or 200 feet – this protects convenience stores and other businesses that sell tobacco products as part of their inventory.

To sum up the current state of regulations on vape, tobacco, and CBD oil businesses in Myrtle Beach:

  • All smoke shops, vape stores, and stores that sell e-cigarettes, vape products, or CBD oil are banned on Ocean Boulevard between 6th Avenue South and 16th Avenue North; and
  • All new smoke shops, vape stores, and CBD oil suppliers are banned citywide until the City makes a decision about zoning regulations.

In the meantime, the federal government has legalized hemp and CBD oil products, removing them completely from the Controlled Substances Act and leaving it up to the states to regulate them.

Hopefully, SC (and the City of Myrtle Beach) will get on board and pass reasonable regulations so that business owners can open their businesses and earn a living…

Myrtle Beach Business Litigation Attorneys in SC

If you need legal advice about local, state, and federal laws regulating hemp, CBD oil, or other hemp products, we can help. The SC business law attorneys at Coastal Law can also help with incorporating your business, negotiating and drafting contracts for your business, defending lawsuits, and prosecuting lawsuits on behalf of your business.

Call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or get in touch by email to talk with a Myrtle Beach business law attorney today.

Ready to Speak with an Attorney?

Contact Coastal Law to discuss your situation.

Get in Touch

20 Years Representing Locals & Tourists
+ +