Marijuana bylaw draft to be publicly vetted

Aug 8, 2018

Marion Planning Board Bylaws Subcommittee completed its final draft of the town’s updated zoning bylaw regulating adult use of marijuana in town at a Aug. 2, meeting with only a few wording changes from a version of the draft that was discussed at the subcommittee’s July 12.

The three-page final draft, which will now be forwarded to Marion Planning Board, lays out the purpose of the law, definition of terms, including what is considered a marijuana product and special permits required. The bylaw maintains that its purpose is to lawfully regulate adult use of marijuana. The bylaw does not regulate medical marijuana establishments or registered marijuana dispensaries, of which there are none in town.

The final draft of the adult use of marijuana bylaw pays much attention to the location of marijuana processing facilities, and in general where smoking is and is not permitted. It states that no adult use marijuana establishments be within 300 feet of a residential zoning district, or within 500 feet of schools, child-cate facilities or playgrounds. It also states that no smoking, burning, vaping or consumption of any product containing marijuana products can be smoked on the premises of a retail marijuana establishment.

A special permit would be needed for cultivation of marijuana for adult use, processing and packaging of marijuana, including marijuana that is in the form of smoking or vaping materials, food products, oils, aerosols, ointments, tinctures and other products, and for retail sale or distribution of marijuana.

It also lays out what is required of people wanting to start an adult use marijuana establishment in town, including the name and address of each business partner, copies of all required licenses and permits issued to the applicant by the state, and any other agencies for the establishment. If the premises to be used for a marijuana facility is leased, proof that the building owner’s “assent to the application.” There must also be security measures at the establishment, including, but not limited to, secure storage area and limited access areas. Security measures will have to be reviewed and approved by local police.

The bylaw proposal also requires that signs for all marijuana establishments be approved by the special permit granting authority through a site plan review by the town planning board.

Like tobacco and alcohol products, the legal age to purchase marijuana and its derivatives is 21 years and older.

The marijuana bylaw document is largely the work of Marion Planning Board member Eileen Marum, a member of the bylaw subcommittee, who attended several meetings and informational workshops on the topic, including SRPEDD's presentation at the MassDOT facility in Taunton in the spring of 2017, and Citizens Planning Training Collaborative the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester on March 17, 2018.

“When you’re making decisions and you’re on the planning board and you’re making decisions you have to make the best decision for everyone,” Marum said. “That’s where I come from. I’ve got to think of the elderly, I’ve got to think of families, and I have to think of the children. I just can’t think of what’s best for a few people. This is a family-oriented community. Everyone wants what’s best for their family. Children are number one in this town.”

The six-person bylaw committee spent some time discussing the location of marijuana facilities, and determined that under current zoning bylaws placement would have to in a designated industrial zone. Presently, that place is in the mini industrial park where Polaris and Lockheed Martin are located, board members said.

The town board of health is formulating its own bylaws proposal on matters that fall under its purview with regard to marijuana, including restaurants, cafes, and stores selling marijuana derivatives and edibles.

The town planning board will hold a hearing on the draft marijuana bylaw at a date to be announced, but prior to the Oct. 22, fall town meeting.