FARMINGDALE — Selectboard members did not float any changes to a draft medical marijuana ordinance on Wednesday.

Selectboard Chairman Jim Grant said he had not looked at the ordinance in enough detail before presstime.

The Planning Board suggested changes to the ordinance late last month after receiving guidance from local caregivers. Those changes would need authorization by town attorneys before being put up for a vote by residents at June’s Town Meeting. The medical marijuana ordinance was last amended in June 2018.

The changes to the ordinance aim to limit, identify and tax caregivers, as officials have struggled to identify where the 16 licensed caregivers are in the town.

The process of amending the ordinance has drawn enthusiastic participation from local caregivers, despite town officials struggling to identify where the town’s 16 are located. About 10 caregivers attended a Planning Board meeting last month to discuss the ordinance.

The biggest change in the draft ordinance is limiting all marijuana “facilities” to one instead of previous language that limited new dispensaries and production facilities. The change would also grandfather caregivers who received a Planning Board license before June 2019. Selectboard members said this would limit new caregivers from coming in if existing caregivers move out.

Planning Board Chairman Frank Pecor said the ordinance was not designed to put caregivers out of business, but to inform public safety officials about where they are. He added that having information on chemicals being used in the growing operations would alert firefighters to risks if there was a fire at one of those locations.

The caregivers in attendance last month suggested changes to appearance standards, which barred the use of the green cross indicative of medical marijuana caregivers, and language that could put growers in the former Sheldon Street school in violation of the ordinance.

Sheldon Street growers use separate units as their “facilities” within the larger building. That would violate of the ordinance’s density limits, which states “no facility shall be closer than 500 linear feet … to … any property which is occupied by an existing medical cannabis facility.” Planning Board member Mark Lutte said changes would be made to encompass both complaints.

In January, Grant said the town could benefit from getting caregivers and their equipment on the tax rolls.

“Some of these grows have (hundreds of thousands of dollars) of equipment,” he said. “That kind of money means we could bring down our mil rate.”

Some caregivers said during the meeting that they would like to transition to adult-use marijuana when state rule-making is finalized. This would not be possible under local law, as the town passed moratorium on adult-use marijuana establishments in June 2017.

A public hearing on the ordinance is expected in March, with an eye on putting it on the June Town Meeting warrant for final voter approval.

The agenda item including the marijuana ordinance also included a draft food sovereignty ordinance and draft contracts for upcoming roadwork. No formal action was taken following a brief discussion.

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME


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