SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 12, 2013

Ipswich seeks moratorium on medical pot

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — IPSWICH — Town officials are proposing a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries until further zoning regulations are put in place.

The temporary zoning bylaw change, initiated by the Planning Department, will likely go before Town Meeting in May. It will be reviewed by the Planning Board, with a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 28.

“The moratorium is being proposed to give the Planning Department an appropriate amount of time to bring forward a more substantive article in the fall,” Town Manager Robin Crosbie told selectmen last week.

The Planning Department will look into the potential impacts and will recommend options for permanent zoning regulations for the dispensaries. The moratorium would last until May 31, 2014.

Medical marijuana was approved by voters across the state last November, and the law took effect Jan. 1. The state Department of Public Health is supposed to issue regulations within 120 days of that date.

Selectmen voted to pass along the proposed zoning changes to the Planning Board. “This does not indicate that we are either in favor of it or not,” said Selectman Bill Craft.

Craft said there are concerns about the guidelines for management, placement and oversight of the dispensaries because the details haven’t been finalized by the state.

The board previously sent a letter to the state requesting that implementation of the law be delayed by six months to give cities and towns more time to plan.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.