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November 14, 2013

In Amesbury, councilors try to push through 'pot farm' support

Council president seeks resolution showing community support

AMESBURY — What was originally expected to be a quiet post-election meeting of the City Council on Tuesday night took an unexpected turn after council president Anne Ferguson proposed a last-minute resolution to allow a medical marijuana cultivation facility to be opened in Amesbury.

If approved, the resolution would allow Ferguson to send a letter of non-opposition to the state Department of Public Health, essentially telling the state that the city isn’t opposed to a request by Alternative Therapies Group Inc. of Newburyport (ATG) for a license to open a medical marijuana cultivation site in town.

The resolution was submitted as a late file and was co-sponsored by Ferguson and District 4 Councilor Bob Lavoie. It would not grant ATG permission to operate a dispensary in town, Ferguson said.

Unlike most City Council proposals, which require two readings and a public hearing before a vote can be taken, resolutions can be voted on the same night they are proposed with little public notice. Ferguson asked for an immediate vote, citing a Nov. 21 state deadline that ATG is facing, but many of the councilors felt the issue deserved more discussion and voted to table any further action until a future meeting.

Since the next regularly scheduled council meeting is in December, Ferguson said she hopes a special meeting can be held so councilors and the public can ask questions and learn more about the issue, and also so a vote can be held before the state deadline. Ferguson said she would like to hold that meeting before next Tuesday’s Ordinance Committee meeting, but nothing has been officially scheduled at this time.

“Primarily, people thought we didn’t have enough information,” Ferguson said. “So if that’s the way to do it, then hopefully we can vote on it by Nov. 21.”

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