SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – During the last Southwick Planning Board meeting, the board discussed the topic of recreational marijuana.
As of Dec. 15, people 21 years and older can have up to an ounce of marijuana in their possession as a gift, but it still remains illegal for someone to buy it or sell it. Individuals can also grow up to six plants and have 12 total plants in a household. People growing marijuana, must be doing it in their primary residence and in a locked and secure area.
Since the town of Southwick voted for recreational marijuana, it is something that the Planning Board wants to get a head start on before recreational use becomes fully in effect at some point in 2018.
“We just don’t want to sit and wait,” said Alan Slissler, the town planner. “We want to be more proactive.”
Assisting the Planning Board as a liaison is Select Board Vice-Chairman Doug Moglin. A former Planning Board member, Moglin has a very extensive background with the proper zoning and bylaws that the board needs to follow.
Moglin too, does see the importance of being proactive with the issue of recreational marijuana, by simply reflecting off of the voting outcome.
“The voters voted for it by almost 50 votes,” said Moglin.
With that in mind, Moglin and the board are setting out with one goal in mind.
“We want it zoned appropriately,” said Moglin.
Slissler then mentioned that he, Moglin, and the Planning Board have agreed to create a sub-committee. But, before any sub-committee is formed, the Select Board has to approve it. Slissler said that the Planning Board would be sending out a letter to the Select Board, requesting the need for a sub-committee.
The sub-committee won’t be the only thing that the board will be requesting as they feel a moratorium would be in the best interest for dealing with recreational marijuana. The moratorium will allow the Planning Board to come up with a proper bylaw.
Slissler wants to use the moratorium in order to find what places would be appropriate for marijuana retail facilities and so on for the future.
The board is familiar with finding a location for marijuana as there was a proposal for a growing and retail facility for medical marijuana about three years ago on Hudson Dr.
When the five Planning Board members voted on that proposal it was very narrowly voted down by a 3-2 vote.
Members of the Planning Board who have experienced the proposal on Hudson Dr., will use that as an example for the near future with recreational use and use the best resources available to them.
“We would rely a lot on the police department,” said Slissler.
Knowing that the holidays are right around the corner, there will be a break with Planning Board meetings. According to Slissler, he is working on having a public hearing in regards to the zoning and bylaws of recreational marijuana for Jan. 10.