, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 5, 2013

Amesbury takes wait and see approach to new medical marijuana law

AMESBURY — Now that Massachusetts voters have approved the legalization of medical marijuana, it’s now up to local communities to figure out how they’re going to deal with the new “pot shops” that will eventually start popping up in the area.

The newly passed law will allow up to 35 medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened in the state, with at least one, but no more than five, per county. As a result, many local communities, including Newburyport, have begun discussing amendments to their zoning regulations that would restrict where the dispensaries can and can’t be opened.

Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer said he has discussed the issue with the other members of the Merrimack Valley Mayors and Managers Coalition, and the consensus they reached was that the best course of action for now would be to have their planners look at the situation and determine what the best course of action would be.

“I know some communities have jumped out ahead on this issue, and I’m happy to let them take the lead,” Kezer said. “What I’ve asked my folks is let’s take a look at it and figure out what we need to be doing.”

Kezer declined to speculate where in Amesbury the dispensaries could be allowed, saying he’d prefer to wait and hear what his planners think before giving that any thought.

Even though the law’s provisions went into effect on Jan. 1, the state Department of Public Health has until May 1 to issue regulations on who will run the new dispensaries, how they’ll be operated and where they can be located, among other issues.

Nobody knows what those regulations will look like at this point, leading many communities to take a defensive stance. The worry is that without zoning amendments, communities could get stuck with a dispensary in a high traffic area downtown, or near a school.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Special Features