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November 29, 2013

McClure: Put hold on 'pot farms'

Amesbury councilor wants time to explore issue

AMESBURY — In a last-ditch effort to slow the prospective entry of medical marijuana into Amesbury, Councilor Donna McClure said she intends to propose a moratorium on medical marijuana development when the City Council is seated for its next term in January.

If approved, the moratorium would temporarily prohibit the use of land or structures in Amesbury for medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation facilities. The city could then use that time to study the issue and implement policies that would allow for a smoother integration of medical marijuana into the community.

The move comes in response to the recent revelation that multiple organizations are vying to open medical marijuana cultivation facilities in Amesbury, and McClure argued that there hasn’t been a sufficient and public discussion regarding medical marijuana.

She added that she’s still personally undecided about medical marijuana, but believes Amesbury needs to take the time to examine the issue before facilities start opening in town.

There are currently two organizations seeking licenses from the Department of Public Health to open medical marijuana businesses in Amesbury. Alternative Therapies Group Inc. is reportedly looking at a property on South Hunt Road, and Green Heart Health and Pharmaceuticals is reportedly interested in the property at 10 Industrial Way.

Both organizations have indicated that they only plan to cultivate marijuana in Amesbury and would open dispensaries elsewhere, but McClure said that according to the DPH, there is no legal distinction between medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers and there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t start dispensing down the road.

“I was feeling OK about cultivation but dead against dispensaries,” McClure said. “But now that I know they could both come, I’m not so sure.”

While McClure said she is hopeful about the willingness of other councilors to support the proposal, time won’t be on her side.

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