Marion, Mattapoisett to vote on marijuana at upcoming Town Meetings

Feb 5, 2018

Residents in Marion and Mattapoisett will vote on marijuana moratoriums next week.

The Planning Boards in both towns requested special Town Meetings to vote on temporary moratoriums on recreational marijuana to give board members more time to draft bylaws.

The state is expected to have its own regulations ready by March 15, but will start accepting applications for licenses on April 1, giving towns only a few weeks to draft and vote on bylaws. Without the moratorium, applicants will only be subject to the regulations of the state.

In Marion, for example, this means that marijuana establishments would be able to set up shop in any area zoned for limited industrial, and the Planning Board would have no say over additional regulations. This is why Marion Planning Board Chair Eileen Marum supports the moratorium.

“I think the town needs time to study, reflect and decide how to govern the time, place and manner of the marijuana establishments,” Marum said. “Where I’m coming from is an attempt to take a measured approach to have a small community regulate marijuana to meet the challenges that its presenting.”

Marion Town Planner Gil Hilario agreed, and added that there hasn’t been enough time to evaluate all aspects of marijuana establishments.

“The newness raises a lot of complex planning issues,” Hilario said. “There are odors, sales…At this given time we need time to go through a more thorough planning analysis to study and identify all the ramifications of adult use marijuana.”

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission has released draft regulations, but those won’t be voted on until March. Then, the towns have to create their bylaws to be consistent with the state.

“There are 107 pages of rules and regulations that the CCC has produced,” Marum said. “There’s no way the Planning Board, Board of Health and Zoning Board of Appeals could get bylaws in place to control the place, time and manner of which marijuana establishments operate.”

Also on Marion’s Town Meeting agenda is a request for $158,460 to address the issues stemming from the loss of the Town House boiler. At the Jan. 2 meeting, selectmen approved to pay for temporary heat until a new boiler can be installed.

Mattapoisett voters will also vote on a medical marijuana moratorium to further evaluate regulation options.

The Mattapoisett Town Meeting is on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at Old Rochester Regional High School.

The Marion Town Meeting is on Feb. 15 at 6:45 p.m. at Sippican School.