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August 23, 2013

Newbury looks to stall Pot clinics

NEWBURY – The Planning Board is contemplating placing a temporary moratorium on the installation of medical marijuana treatment and dispensary centers in town.

Planner Martha Taylor said a proposed amendment to zoning bylaws, which voters may be asked to consider at a Special Town Meeting on Oct. 22, would give the town more time “to consider where and under what conditions to allow facilities associated with the use of medical marijuana” as permitted by state law.

Following last November’s ballot approval, The “Act for the Humanitarian Use of Medical Marijuana” went into effect Jan. 1 and the state’s public health regulations governing dispensaries and related uses became effective in May. This means Massachusetts law now allows the production, distribution and use of marijuana for medical purposes, with up to five registered marijuana distribution licenses soon to be available for Essex County.

“This moratorium will allow the town to study carefully the potential impacts of (Registered Marijuana Dispensaries) and related facilities and uses” on public health, safety and welfare, planners stated in a letter to selectmen dated Aug. 13. It will also provide time “to develop zoning and other applicable regulations that address the town’s concerns in the context of Newbury’s planning goals and objectives, “ planners wrote.

Last month a proposal by the non-profit corporation, Medical Evolution, to install a state-registered medicinal marijuana dispensary in commercial office space on Kent’s Way hit a snag when the landlord announced he had no intention of leasing his property for this purpose.

Medical Evolution is slated to make a presentation at a selectmen’s meeting in Georgetown on August 26 on the possible installation of a medical marijuana cultivation center at an industrial building on Jackman Street. If approved, the cultivation center would grow, harvest and process the marijuana, which includes curing, drying and packaging the substance grown within the secure walls of a 6,000 to 10,000 square foot building. Officials there have also scheduled a public hearing on a proposed zoning bylaw relating to the siting of medical marijuana-related businesses in town at Town Hall on Aug. 28.

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