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March 26, 2013

Board: No pot shops for year

Danvers: Selectmen push for moratorium on dispensaries

Danvers selectmen favor a one-year moratorium on the location of medical marijuana dispensaries in town until the state Department of Public Health formulates its regulations on them.

Selectmen Chairman Bill Clark said the unanimous vote last Tuesday sends a draft zoning amendment to the Planning Board for a public hearing on April 23 on an article for the annual Town Meeting in May.

Town counsel prepared the moratorium with input from Town Hall staff “based in part on recent actions taken by other communities,” according to a memo from Town Manager Wayne Marquis.

“A key provision is a specific time frame for the proposed moratorium; the attorney general has made it clear that their approval of any such moratorium (amendment) will require a specific time frame,” Marquis wrote.

“My feeling,” Clark said, “we have to wait until the state regulations come out.”

Clark said that while he and others in town may not like the idea of medical marijuana centers, voters approved them, so “it has to be allowed at some location.”

“The zoning regulation of medical marijuana raises novel and complex planning and land use issues, as well as public safety and legal issues,” the proposed amendment states. The moratorium “will allow the town sufficient time to engage in a planning process to address the effects of such uses and structures in the town ...”

The moratorium would last for a year and would start when state regulations go into effect, or when it might be adopted at the annual Town Meeting, “whichever date is sooner.”

Selectman Dan Bennett, who came up with the idea for a moratorium, said that once the state comes up with the regulations, the Danvers Board of Health could write its own regulations and the town could draft zoning rules to limit where dispensaries might set up shop.

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