Recreational, medical marijuana moratoriums pass at Town Meeting

Feb 13, 2018

Mattapoisett residents voted 102-4 in favor of temporary moratoriums on recreational and medical marijuana establishments at Town Meeting on Monday night.

The moratoriums will run through Dec. 3, and the aim is to give town officials time to draft municipal bylaws to regulate the establishments.

The state is expected to have its own regulations for recreational marijuana 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 would only be subject to the regulations of the state and could open in any area in town zoned for retail.

Resident David Anderson asked how many marijuana establishments could even be allowed in town.

“If I read right, the law permits the zoning authority to limit the number of establishments to less than 20 percent of [alcohol licenses], of which there are only two in Mattapoisett,” he said. “So there couldn’t be sales here right?”

Selectman Tyler Macallister, however, clarified that not only would the bylaw of issuing marijuana licenses for a number of establishments less than 20 percent of alcohol licenses have to be voted on, towns have to allow at least one unless voters choose to outright ban it.

“Right now, we have three [alcohol licenses], so the number [of marijuana licenses] we would be issuing is one,” he said. “The number can’t be zero unless we go and prohibit it.”

Lisa Cardoza asked if residents would be involved in the bylaw process.

“During the planning process what happens? And what can we do to be further this along?”

Macallister said the Planning Board had been open about the issue so far, and that he expects that to continue to be the case.

“During my participation during public meetings there was a lot of discussion about open regulations, getting public input and keeping it as transparent as possible,” he said. “I believe you’d get a lot of notice, and it’d be on all the people of the town to pay attention to when the Planning Board is meeting.”

He added that the process would include the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, Police Chief Mary Lyons and likely a working group.

Any bylaws that are drafted would be presented to the town at a public hearing, and then would have to be voted on at Town Meeting.

Resident Cecile Sanders then asked Lyons what the Police Department thought about marijuana in Mattapoisett.

“Obviously we’re not in favor of having an establishment here where they’re selling or cultivating marijuana,” Lyons said. “I would encourage you to vote favorable for the moratorium to have time to make a fully formed opinion. That’s where [the Police Department] stands.”

Though the moratoriums for both medical and recreational marijuana establishments passed easily, there were some detractors.

“With this moratorium I think we’re just kicking the can down the road,” Anderson said. “I’m voting against it.”