Mashpee To Seek Delay In New Medical Marijuana Law
By: Geoff Spillane
Like many Massachusetts municipalities, the Town of Mashpee is seeking guidance and a bit more time to help it navigate the uncharted waters of implementing and enforcing the state’s new legalized medical marijuana law, which is slated to take effect next week.
The ballot question easily won statewide passage on November 6, with Mashpee voters casting ballots in favor of the question by a margin of 4,627 to 3,345.
At the Mashpee Board of Selectmen meeting last week, Police Chief Rodney C. Collins offered his recommendations on how the town should proceed in dealing with potential issues it could face with implementing the law, including locations for a possible dispensary, possession regulations, and cultivation of the drug.
Chief Collins said that the law was not as clear as he would prefer, and that he respects the will of the people, but that it is wise to move cautiously with implementation of the law. To this end, he strongly advocated that the board send a letter of support to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which has called for a six-month delay of the law’s effective date in order to allow cities and towns adequate time to update local zoning codes and create any necessary regulations to ensure that the law does not create adverse impacts in communities.
The board unanimously agreed with Chief Collins’s recommendation, and will be sending a letter to the MMA next week. The Sandwich Board of Selectmen has taken a similar stance, and has also sent an appeal to the MMA and the town’s legislative delegation to request a six-month delay in implementing the law.
I would never go against a majority vote, but in this case I do not think a six-month delay would hurt anyone as we find out more about the specifics of the law and how it will be enforced.
A six-month delay would also allow municipalities, such as Mashpee, that participate in the town meeting form of government ample time to present relevant articles on the spring meeting warrant.
“I would never go against a majority vote, but in this case I do not think a six-month delay would hurt anyone as we find out more about the specifics of the law and how it will be enforced,” Selectman John J. Cahalane said.
Mashpee Town Planner F. Thomas Fudala agrees that not enough is known about the law and how it would affect the town from a zoning perspective. He said that his first thought was that a Barnstable County dispensary would most likely be located in Hyannis, where an overlay district is already being considered, and probably not here in Mashpee.
“I’m curious as to how these dispensaries will be defined. Are they retail outlets? Medical offices? If it is classified as retail, then someone setting up shop could do so in one of our retail areas, similar to a Walgreen’s or a CVS,” Mr. Fudala said.
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