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February 4, 2014

Town Meeting OKs medical pot zoning

DANVERS — Special Town Meeting last night approved a move to create six new liquor licenses while carving out two areas in industrial parks where a medical marijuana dispensary might go.

Town Meeting members made it through 14 articles with much of the discussion centered on the creation of additional liquor licenses and medical marijuana dispensaries zones. The Planning Board had recommended, and Town Meeting approved the Cherry Hill industrial park off Conant Street and the Danvers Industrial Park off Route 1 South for new medical marijuana overlay districts.

Officials said the reason for the zoning was voters statewide had approved the medical use of marijuana in November 2012, so it was best to find a place for these dispensaries. The town had put in place a one-year moratorium on them so it could write rules around where they could be located. The industrial parks provide good road access, have a range of available space and are isolated from neighborhoods.

“I am wondering if we should even consider this,” said former Selectman and Town Meeting member Mark Zuberek, who called Town Meeting to take no action on Article 7, saying: “The state, in its infinite wisdom, shoved this down our throats.”

Zuberek favored pharmacies, not new dispensaries, be allowed to distribute the drug. He said federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana, so that these businesses cannot transact business using credit cards or checks.

“Please consider the ramifications down the road and be careful what we get into,” Zuberek said.

“The voters in our state ... the voters in this room, I dare say, voted for medical marijuana,” said Selectman Dan Bennett, who said the state Attorney General would not allow Danvers to ban medical pot dispensaries outright.

“I voted against this when it was on the ballot,” said former Selectman and Town Meeting member Bill Nicholson, concerned that people would become “burn outs” on the drug. However, he said he did some research and found that marijuana sold in dispensaries was “pure marijuana.”

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