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December 16, 2013

Public gets chance to sound off on pot farms Tuesday

AMESBURY – Local residents clamoring to have their voices heard on the issue of medical marijuana will finally have a chance to weigh in during Tuesday night’s special meeting of the City Council.

The main focus of the meeting will be the public hearing on the proposed medical marijuana moratorium, during which the councilors will discuss potentially imposing a temporary ban on medical marijuana development so that the city has time to study the issue and pass new zoning regulations.

The issue has emerged as a hot button issue in Amesbury since news surfaced that two organizations were seeking licenses to open medical marijuana cultivation facilities in town. As a result, officials are expecting a packed house when the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium.

The matter first came to the forefront last month when Council President Anne Ferguson proposed a resolution of non-opposition to the project, catching several of the other councilors off guard and raising the ire of some who argued the issue should have been brought up before the election.

In response, Councilor Donna McClure proposed the temporary moratorium as a way for Amesbury to slow down and allow a full public discussion on the matter before any companies move in and actually begin cultivating marijuana.

The Planning Board has also been involved in the discussions, and after Tuesday’s meeting, a joint meeting of the Planning Board and the City Council will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 30, at which point a final vote will likely be taken.

Should the moratorium be approved, it would temporarily ban all use of land or property in Amesbury from being used for medical marijuana treatment centers, cultivation facilities or dispensaries through June 30, 2014.

The two prospective companies, which are Alternative Therapies Group Inc. and Great Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals, have indicated that they are only interested in opening cultivation facilities in Amesbury and would not dispense marijuana from those locations.

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