Easthampton City Council approves 'historic' recreational cannabis zoning ordinance
EASTHAMPTON — City councilors soldiered through a three-and-a-half-hour work session Wednesday night, engaged in vigorous debate, and emerged with a recreational marijuana zoning ordinance.
After seven months of public hearings, the ordinance passed 7-1-1, with at-large councilor Daniel Carey voting “no” and Precinct 5 councilor Daniel Rist abstaining.
The measure maintains a 350-foot school buffer zone advanced in an earlier compromise. An amendment from Precinct 1 Councilor James “J.P.” Kwiecinski to increase the buffer to 500 feet narrowly failed, and a subsequent try for 400 feet also failed.
Carey said the failure of the 500-foot buffer was a deal-breaker for him, and Rist abstained after saying he would not support a bill with less than a 400-foot school buffer. Both councilors, however, thanked their colleagues and said the overall ordinance was thoughtfully crafted.
The measure caps the total number of retail licenses at six. It requires a 200-foot space between marijuana retailers, except in the mill industrial zone. It contains language around signage, odor, visual impact, security, and nuisance conditions.
Cannabis retailers would be able to operate from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., a consistent standard in the highway business, downtown business, industrial, and mill industrial zones. No marijuana “home occupations” would be allowed.
Two innovative measures made the cut.
“Industrial hemp” cultivation, to the extent it is allowed by state agriculture regulators, would be allowed with site plan approval.
As for onsite consumption, “no marijuana shall be smoked, eaten, or otherwise consumed or ingested on the premises,” except as may be allowed in a cannabis membership club or other entity allowed by state law.
The caveat keeps the door open for allowing “cannabis cafes” and other such entities if the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission crafts rules to allow them.
“This is historic,” said Karima Rizk, who would like to