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Local News

August 3, 2013

Andover to mull medical marijuana moratorium

ANDOVER — A Newburyport-based non-profit wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in town, but the Board of Selectmen may try to snuff out the idea, at least temporarily, Monday night.

During the board’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, a discussion is planned on whether to impose a one-year ban on locating such businesses in town.

“If we are going to have a special town meeting in the fall, and I’m not sure if we are, my recommendation Monday night is that (Selectmen) include a medical marijuana moratorium,” said Town Manager Reginald ‘Buzz’ Stapczyinski. “That would give us some time to think through a zoning ordinance with the planning board about what would be the appropriate location.”

He said a one-year moratorium would enable town officials to hold public hearings, conduct a study and determine the best direction for the town. Haverhill and Lawrence both currently have temporary bans on marijuana dispensaries for the same reason, as do several other communities across the state.

Over the last three months, Chris Edwards of Alternative Therapies Group of Newburyport, along with consultant and former state representative David Torrisi, have held one-on-one meetings with local officials to discuss their plans. He said they have spoken to the police chief as well as the health and building inspectors along with all five selectmen and the town manager.

He said the response from people in town has been mixed.

“Some are opposed for political reasons, others are in favor,” he said. “People realize there is a lot of healing this industry can bring to people. It’s unfortunate, that political pressures or motivations can bring out opposition.”

Last fall, a medical marijuana ballot question passed overwhelmingly in the state. In Andover, 61 percent of the voters approved the proposal. State regulators recently issued guidelines for the businesses. The dispensaries could only sell marijuana to people who have a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana based on a diagnosed medical problem.

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