SALISBURY — While voters wrestle with how they’ll vote on the Nov. 8 ballot question on legalizing marijuana, two companies have indicated they’d like to site medical marijuana facilities in Salisbury.
American Cannabis Company and Nature’s Remedy of Massachusetts have contacted Town Manager Neil Harrington, Police Chief Tom Fowler and some selectmen in recent months about locating dispensaries in town. According to Harrington, sites discussed are on Elm Street (Route 110) and Bridge Road (Route 1).
In light of the new interest in Salisbury, selectmen decided to hold a workshop with both entities at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26 at Town Hall, Harrington said. The workshop is open to the public.
In 2012, the ballot question to legalize medical marijuana was approved by voters by a landslide 63 percent statewide vote.
Communities in the region, including Salisbury, then scrambled to create zoning bylaws to address where medical marijuana facilities could locate. Salisbury spent months analyzing the issues revolving around the concerns before presenting a new zoning bylaw to Town Meeting, which was approved in May 2014.
Companies selling marijuana for medical use must be licensed by the state, then follow the requirements of the community involved to locate dispensaries.
Those wishing to buy medical marijuana must first be certified by a qualified health care provider, then register with the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program, a process that must be completed annually.
In Salisbury, locating a medical marijuana facility requires a special permit from the Planning Board, unless it can be proven it falls under the state’s agricultural exemption. In addition, there are restrictions on where such a facility can locate. For example, one cannot be sited within 500 feet of a dwelling or a place where minor children commonly congregate, such as schools, child care facilities, playgrounds, video arcades, public parks and libraries.
Question 4 on this year’s ballot, however, if approved, would allow the commercial sale of marijuana to those 21 and older without proof of medical requirements.
According to the information provided to voters in the Secretary of State’s book on this year’s ballot questions, Question 4 would legalize, regulate and tax the drug and set up a Cannabis Control Commission to administer the law. Sales would be subject to the state sales tax as well as an excise tax of 3.75 percent. Communities allowing marijuana businesses would also have the option of taxing an additional 2 percent.
Passage of Question 4 would allow people to possess as much as 10 ounces of marijuana and grow six plants in their homes, while limiting possession outside homes to one ounce.
It would let communities adopt reasonable restrictions on how marijuana businesses operate and limit the number of such establishments within their borders. According to the Secretary of State’s information, municipalities could “hold a local vote to determine whether to permit the selling of marijuana and marijuana products for consumption on the premises at commercial establishments.”
According to the Secretary of State’s booklet, if passed, Question 4 would not affect the existing law pertaining to medical marijuana dispensaries.
But the two companies expressing interest in Salisbury for medical marijuana dispensaries will not have time to gain approval prior to the Nov. 8 election.