Marijuana moratorium approved at Special Town Meeting
Rutland voters approved a moratorium on recreational marijuana at a Special Town Meeting held on March 12. The vote, which amended the town’s zoning by-law, passed with 62 in favor and 16 opposed. A two thirds vote was required, or 51 votes or more to pass.
The yes vote in Rutland temporarily pauses town action to implement any bylaws regulating or banning recreational marijuana in Rutland until Dec. 31, 2018.
Massachusetts voters were in favor of Question 4 regarding marijuana on the Nov. 8, 2016 state election ballot which authorized the limited adult use of marijuana and the licensing of marijuana establishments. Rutland, narrowly rejected the ballot question by a vote of 2,415 yes and 2,467 no. The law that was enacted following the statewide vote on Question 4 allows municipalities the opportunity to adopt bylaws or ordinances imposing full bans, or allow some or all recreational marijuana establishments.
According to Rutland officials, the purpose of the moratorium is to wait for the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to fully implement regulations, and for the town to conduct a full and through planning process to consider whether any recreational marijuana license categories or activities should be presented as zoning and/ or general bylaws at a Fall 2018 Special Town Meeting.
Town Administrator Margaret Nartowicz said the CCC had finalized regulations on March 5 and they would be effective March 23.
Residents in attendance expressed questions and concerns on the topic.
Resident Rachael Donovan asked if the amendment to the bylaw might contradict Rutland’s Right to Farm bylaw that allows production of any agricultural commodity. This general bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands in Rutland by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and local agencies.