Stow selectmen debate Massachusetts marijuana regulations
By Mark [email protected]
Stow selectmen discussed the town’s response to the state marijuana regulations at the March 15 board meeting.
Massachusetts voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana in November 2016, with possession and use of small quantities permitted under Massachusetts law on Dec. 15, 2016. Marijuana possession is still a crime under federal law.
In the time since the vote, the state has been working to create regulations for the commercial marijuana industry, including production and sales.
The Cannabis Control Commission will begin accepting license applications from marijuana cultivators, product manufacturers, and retailers on April 1. Approved licenses would be effective 90 days after issue, which could mean commercial marijuana establishments would be opening for business in July.
High barrier to banning retail
Since 53.7 percent of voters in the town of Stow voted in favor of legalizing marijuana, selectmen cannot prohibit the opening of recreational marijuana establishments in town, unless two-thirds of voters approve prohibition at the polls. The selectmen voted a moratorium on recreational marijuana in effect until November, to give them more time to consider zoning and other issues.
The purpose of the March 15 discussion was not to arrive at any decisions but to review the issues so the board would be prepared to make decisions at the March 27 meeting.
Selectman Chairman Brian Burke reviewed the issues.
They include whether the town might ban cultivation, manufacturing or sale of marijuana or implement a local 3 percent tax on marijuana sales. Also to be considered were penalties for violations, rules for signs, and limits on the number of marijuana establishments allowed in the town.
By law the town could limit the number of establishments to fewer than 20 percent of the number of off-premise liquor licenses. In the case of Stow this would amount to