Rochester approves marijuana regulations at Town Meeting

May 20, 2019

ROCHESTER — Town Meeting voters quickly approved two marijuana-related articles on May 20 to control the sales and use of the plant. 

The biggest change was a new bylaw that established retail marijuana regulations. The bylaw will allow marijuana cultivators in agricultural or residential lots, product manufacturers,  testing laboratories, or other licensed recreational facilities in the industrial zone and any marijuana retailers only in the general commercial district. 

The bylaw also places facility security at the discretion of the police and fire department and rules that products or paraphernalia cannot be visible and abutters cannot smell odors from the facility. 

The one question on the bylaw had to do with how Rochester’s plan fit in with the state rules. 

Town Counsel Blair Bailey explained that the state, “in its infinite wisdom” had decided not to classify marijuana as an agricultural product. Bailey said that the town looked at the state requirements on outdoor cultivators (a fence of a certain height, security cameras and enough lighting on the fence to be able to use the cameras at night) and decided that it was simpler to just allow indoor cultivation. 

The town also voted to impose a three percent excise tax on the sale of marijuana from inside the town, to be collected at the same time as state sales tax.