MASSACHUSETTS, USA – The looming date of April 1 is around the horizon and with that comes the scrambling of the citizens of Massachusetts in identifying the proper zoning rules for recreational marijuana stores. The first of April marks the date when local cannabis sellers are able to apply for their selling license.
Moratoriums have been set up by local communities in anticipation of the coming date in order for them to propose their own regulations. The cities Fitchburg and Leominster have opposed to this notion however and have opted to have arrangements for zoning rules in place in the coming months.
Leominster’s Slow Start Off the Gates but Catching Up
A city councilor in Leominster, Mark Bodanza, recently finished a draft that contains plans for their city’s zoning. According to him, his draft was based on an existing ordinance he created which is related to medical marijuana.
Bodanza declared that his city’s plans won’t be making the deadline set on April 1 and even ventured to predict that many others won’t also at this point. This reason alone led him to start the drafts and in doing so will have a finalized version of proposed zoning rules set up to be approved on the first of July.
Aside from the work that Bodanza has put in for his city’s ordinance, Leominster has only tackled this topic twice in 2017. The first was when the city’s Planning Board discussed and opposed a brief moratorium; the second was when they were called in to vote on a local’s petition. The petition, which the board supported, was about having the city begin working on its zoning in anticipation of the coming sales of recreational marijuana.
Despite its discussions on the early start in June of 2017, the city’s zoning regulations for recreational marijuana would only meet its agenda 7 months later.
Fitchburg’s Preparedness for the Recreational Marijuana
The city of Fitchburg is also on the brink of completing the first proposal of its zoning ordinance. Unlike Leominster, Fitchburg’s Planning Board met frequently to discuss how to manage recreational marijuana. It did so in each of the last 3 months of 2017.
The city’s board meeting in April of last year tackled a broad array of topics, as it discussed issues like quality control and the amount of licenses they’ll allow. They even catered to the concerns put forth by various landlords anticipating the imminent inflow of recreational cannabis sellers who will be looking to lease.
A draft containing the proposed zoning ordinance was submitted recently by Tom Skwierawski, the community Development Executive Director of Fitchburg. The ordinance proposed the limiting of dispensaries within the medical marijuana zoning spread with the cultivation facilities kept in industrial zones.
Skwierawski claimed that the lack of guidance coming from the state got them to put off the issue until they had a more bolstered handle on the issue of the handling of recreational marijuana. Only when the issue was put more into focus and aid from attorneys and the state itself arrived were they able to really start incepting their draft on zoning rules.
State of Things in Lunenburg, Westminster, and Lancaster
The lack of guidance from the state also delayed the rolling of the wheels in Lunenburg, much like Fitchburg. Only when they were given a document containing 80 pages of proposed plans from the state were they able to begin the work. Gregory Brittner, the city’s Planning Board Chairman, stated that they are planning on finishing a draft by April or May, although their moratorium won’t end until November.
Westminster, similar to Lunenburg, has a moratorium in place. The city is collecting data from their locals and is set to begin working on its zoning draft once the issue is concluded.
Moreover, Lancaster is the only town in the state that’s considering a total ban on the distribution of recreational marijuana. However, research facilities and the cultivation of the said product would still be allowed if the ban should pass. Thus, the town need not worry about the zoning rules just yet.