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Local News

January 9, 2014

Councilors propose zoning rules for medical marijuana facilities

AMESBURY — In the wake of last month’s failed attempt to impose a moratorium on all medical marijuana development in Amesbury, the City Council has decided to shift gears on the issue and will instead pursue a zoning amendment regulating the new industry.

District 6 Councilor Jonathan Sherwood has proposed a zoning amendment that would create a Medical Marijuana Overlay District (MMOD) specifically targeting dispensaries. If approved, the MMOD would restrict any future dispensary to industrial and light industrial districts while preventing them from opening downtown or in residential areas.

According to the bill, future dispensaries would require a special permit from the Planning Board and could not be located within 500 feet of a school, child care facility, library, playground, public park, youth center, public pool, video arcade or any other place where children are known to congregate.

Notably, the new zoning district would not regulate cultivation facilities, which means that if either of the two companies interested in setting up cultivation facilities in Amesbury are awarded licenses at the end of the month by the state Department of Public Health, they would be clear to open without local government interference.

Those companies are Alternative Therapies Group Inc., which is looking to lease space in a warehouse on South Hunt Road, and Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals, which is interested in setting up shop at 10 Industrial Way near the Salisbury border. If awarded DPH licenses, both would be located within the proposed MMOD.

The bill is co-sponsored by Councilors at-large Jim Kelcourse, Anne Ferguson and Donna McClure and will be read as a first reading at the City Council’s next meeting on Jan. 14. The bill will then be forwarded to committee and to the Planning Board, which is expected to conduct a full review of its own.

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