Recreational marijuana survey going out to Huntington residents

HUNTINGTON, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The town’s Planning Board will be sending out a marijuana bylaw survey for residents along with second quarter FY18 tax bills. The purpose of the survey, which is already posted on the town’s website at www.huntingtonma.us is to help guide the Planning Board in drafting a bylaw regulating recreational marijuana facilities in Huntington.

Planning Board chair Linda Hamlin said the survey will give the committee feedback on how people feel about having the businesses in town, but is not binding. They will consider the results when drafting the bylaw, which will then be voted on at the Annual Town Meeting next spring. “We want to make sure that the town of Huntington is making the decisions, and not the state,” Hamlin said.

The survey poses five questions, all drawn from the Massachusetts General Law passed by voters in November to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, which are not specifically addressed in the Huntington Zoning Bylaws
The questions ask whether voters approve of marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, retailers, product manufacturers and any other type of licensed marijuana-related businesses within the Town of Huntington. On the back of the survey are definitions of each of the categories listed.

At this year’s town meeting on June 5, voters overwhelmingly passed a moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses within the town of Huntington, in order to give the town the opportunity to create regulations.

Hamlin said they still have some time to get a bylaw written before the state “gets its ducks in a row” and passes regulation legislation.

In late June, the House and Senate both passed bills regulating recreational marijuana. A committee was then set up to write a compromise bill, which was presented to Gov. Charlie Baker on June 20. Baker is expected to act on the legislation by the end of the month.

Huntington voters passed the legalization of recreational marijuana in the November 8, 2016 election by a vote of 723 to 450. According to the compromise measure before the Governor, this would require a vote by the residents in order to ban recreational marijuana businesses in the town. In communities that voted against legalization in November, local officials may make that decision for the town, according to the current bill.

Huntington residents may download the survey from the town website, or wait to receive one with their tax bills, and mail it to the Town of Huntington Planning Board, PO Box 430, Huntington, MA 01050, or drop it off at Town Hall.