SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Planning Board made a decision on the marijuana moratorium. After closing the public hearing on the subject, the board voted in favor of sending the marijuana bylaws to Town Council for final preparation so it can be put on the ballot at the annual town meeting in May.
The two bylaws were submitted separately; one being for medical marijuana and the other for recreational marijuana.
The medical marijuana bylaw focuses on registered marijuana dispensaries. The definition in the drafted-up bylaw states that “It’s a not-for-profit entity that is registered under the law that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to registered qualifying patients or their personal caregivers to be conducted entirely within a secure facility with no drive-thru services.”
The moratorium on the medical marijuana will be in effect through June 30, 2018, and during that period, the Town of Southwick has the ability to undertake a planning process to address the potential impacts of Registered Marijuana Dispensaries.
The voters of the commonwealth approved a law regulating the cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes at the state election on November 8, 2016, that law became effective on December 15, 2016.
The Cannabis Control Commission, which is the state-run commission that will guide municipalities in the state, is required to issue the regulations for the implementation by March 15, 2018.
There are several definitions for the recreational marijuana that the Planning Board and Town Council came up with. The bylaw includes manufacturing, accessories, cultivating, an establishment like a marijuana-testing facility, a product manufacturer, marijuana products, and retailer.
Moving forward, the town will have to wait and see what the Cannabis Control Commission decides what to do with limiting the number of marijuana establishments in Southwick.
Waiting on the commission, the Planning Board wanted to get a head start on creating their bylaws.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” said Town Planner Alan Slessler. “We want to find a good place to put it.”
Slessler said the town is continuing to weigh their options as to where the marijuana establishments could be located in town. The regulations don’t allow any potential facilities to be near a church or school and also not in a residential zone.
There could be a possible option on College Highway or in an industrial restricted zone.