Marion begins to formulate bylaw on marijuana dispensary placement

Jul 13, 2018

Potential recreational marijuana business in Marion would be best fit for a limited industrial zone under draft bylaw changes, according to Eileen Marum of the Planning Board.

Under a marijuana bylaw draft pieced together by Marum and reviewed by the town's legal counsel, sellers would be prohibited within 300 feet of residential areas and 500 feet of any school, child-care facility, or playground.

She mentioned Sippican Office Park, which currently houses Polaris and Lockheed Martin, as an example of a possible setting for a pot retailer.

“You’ve got a little wooded area,” Marum said about a limited industrial zone. “It’s not near homes, it’s not near a school, it’s kind of by itself so people can access it.”

Additionally, special permit requirements under the draft would outlaw marijuana vending machines and self-service displays. Marijuana vendors also couldn’t sell alcohol or tobacco products.

Consumers wouldn’t be able to smoke, burn, vape, or consume any marijuana products at shops. That proposed prohibition, Marum said, is an effort to prevent impaired driving.

“We don’t (want to) have any of what they call ‘marijuana cafes’ where you can go there and perhaps order food or a salad,” she said.

The Marion Board of Health is also coming up with a marijuana bylaw proposal, specific to its purview under state guidelines, Marum said.

Should it pass the Planning Board after review, Marum said she's confident that the marijuana bylaw will win approval at October Town Meeting.

Should the bylaw be approved by Town Meeting, it would go to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. The state Attorney General is expected to make a decision between Town Meeting and the time a town-imposed moratorium on all recreational marijuana sales expires at the end of the year.

For now, Marum has shared the draft with the Planning Board Bylaw Subcommittee and Master Plan Subcommittee. During a meeting on Wednesday, July 12, members of both subcommittees breezed through the matter, seeking time to look it over.

“People need to read it and think about it,” said Norm Hills, clerk for the Planning Board and a selectman.