SALISBURY — The Planning Board this week aired its first draft of new zoning for the siting of medical marijuana facilities in town before a small audience that included police Chief Thomas Fowler.
After state voters approved a ballot referendum making legal the cultivation, sale/distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana Act went into effect in January 2013, with state public health officials promulgating rules for the licensing of such entities.
After being contacted by an individual interested in setting up a medical marijuana cultivation center in Salisbury last year, town officials looked into how best to regulate the placement of such a business, while protecting children and abiding by the state law.
In September 2013, selectmen and Planning Board members met with a legal consultant to be briefed on the intricacies of the state regulation, as well as what communities can do to regulate them. Communities are not allowed to pass regulations that prohibit facilities, but can construct new zoning ordinances that determine how and where they can be sited.
To give the Planning Board time to construct a set of regulations, October Town Meeting voters approved a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana facilities in Salisbury. The moratorium gives the Planning Board until June 30 to formulate — and Town Meeting to adopt — the necessary rules to regulate medical marijuana centers in town. The moratorium expires at that time.
Since the moratorium’s passage, the Planning Board has held two public workshops to discuss proposed zoning ordinances on the topic; however, neither workshop drew an audience and the board received only one written comment on the subject.
Salisbury’s town counsel drafted an initial ordinance that board members used to create the proposed “Model Medical Marijuana Overlay District Bylaw,” which they showed to the public on Wednesday. Copies are available on the Planning Board page on the town’s website (www.salisburyma.gov) or at Town Hall.