NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 4, 2013

Councilors push for pause on 'pot farms'

AMESBURY – A special meeting of the City Council has been scheduled for tonight to hold the first reading of a bill that would establish a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana development in Amesbury.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Auditorium, and the bill’s first reading is the only item on the agenda.

Councilors Donna McClure, James Kelcourse and Joseph McMilleon requested the meeting, setting the stage for a potential vote on the moratorium later this month. If approved, the moratorium would run through June 30, 2014, and during that time the city would study the issue and consider whether or not to adopt new zoning protections.

McClure is the proposal’s primary sponsor, and the bill is modeled after a similar piece of legislation passed earlier this year in Burlington. She said the reason she’s pushing for the moratorium is to slow down the medical marijuana development process so the city will have a chance to better prepare itself. Two companies have indicated they want to establish marijuana growing farms in Amesbury.

She also reiterated her feeling that a move to declare that Amesbury was not opposed to the pot farms was sprung upon the city at the last minute by Council President Anne Ferguson after the election, and that most of the nine councilors were kept out of the loop while discussions took place behind the scenes.

“I’m disappointed that this is not a unanimous request,” McClure said. “We were elected to represent the people, and many of the councilors have been excluded from this discussion.”

Originally it was expected that the earliest a vote could be taken was in February, because with the new council taking office in January, any first readings taken this month would fall by the wayside and need to be proposed again next month.

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