With a first reading in January and a vote in February, the moratorium would likely come too late to do anything about the prospective medical marijuana cultivation facilities interested in coming to Amesbury. The Department of Public Health is expected to issue their licenses by the end of January, and if approved, the facilities could begin setting up shop right away.
By holding a special meeting tonight to take care of the first reading, the City Council will be able to vote on the medical marijuana moratorium before the end of the year and resolve the issue one way or the other well before the DPH licenses are issued.
There are two organizations known to be interested in establishing cultivation facilities in Amesbury. One is Alternative Therapies Group Inc., which is a Newburyport-based non-profit looking into a property on South Hunt Road, and the other is Green Heart Health and Pharmaceuticals, which is reportedly looking at a property at 10 Industrial Way.
Both groups have indicated that they have no plans to dispense medical marijuana from their facilities and are looking to open separate dispensaries elsewhere. McClure noted that there is no legal distinction between dispensaries and cultivation facilities, however, so there’s no guarantee that the facilities couldn’t begin dispensing down the line.
One potential pitfall the bill faces is whether or not enough councilors show up at tonight’s meeting to meet quorum. McClure said that Kelcourse and McMilleon both told her they’d be there, but that Bob Gilday said he couldn’t make it. If five councilors aren’t in attendance, then the first reading can’t be held and the bill would likely have to wait until after the new year.
If the first reading does go ahead as planned, McClure said there would likely need to be another special meeting scheduled to hold the vote, and under open meeting law the earliest that could happen is Tuesday, Dec. 17.