November 14 2016

Selectman to Place Recreational Marijuana Dispensary Moratorium on Town Meeting Warrant

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen voted to put a warrant article before Town Meeting that could potentially put a moratorium on legalized recreational marijuana dispensaries opening in town. 


As reported, recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21 was approved by Massachusetts voters during the election last week. 


Chairman of the Board Daniel Grattan said he wanted the item on the agenda because he had been speaking with Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heureux who reminded him that after medical marijuana was passed in 2012 Town Meeting approved a year-long moratorium on any dispensaries opening in town to give officials time to come up with a zoning policy to have control on where they could open. 


“Should we do something similar now?” Grattan asked the other members of the board. 


Town Administrator John Petrin recommended that the board, if it wished, vote to place an article in the January Town Meeting warrant proposing a moratorium. He said town officials will likely need to wait for more information from the state to craft the details of the article because the law is no new and everyone is still working out the details. 


“I did speak with people in the Massachusetts Municipal Association and they said they are looking for input from communities,” he said. “We are waiting for more information to come down. At this time we can’t say we’re prepared to have a discussion that will stand because we need more guidance.”


There is also a chance the state legislature will take action to further clarify the regulations on recreational marijuana sales. 


Petrin said he did think Burlington residents would like to see this approach because, unlike most communities, they voted against the ballot measure. In town 6,253 residents voted “yes” while 7,615 said “no” to legalizing recreational marijuana. 


 Selectman Mike Runyan said he thought it would be “prudent to proceed with the warrant article.” 


In the end the board voted 4-0 to put the article on the warrant. Right now it is considered a “place holder” article until more information comes in and more details can be worked out. 

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