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December 5, 2012

Danvers takes steps to zone marijuana dispensaries

DANVERS — Selectman Keith Lucy pointed out last night that his colleague, selectmen Chairman and farmer Bill Clark, is fond of saying the town’s zoning bylaws prohibit the raising of elephants when it comes to what is allowed and not allowed in town.

So with the passage of a ballot question Nov. 6 allowing medical marijuana use, it’s more than likely that the town’s zoning bylaws will accommodate a medical marijuana treatment center before it will an elephant farm in Danvers.

While it may be an apples-to-oranges comparison, that was the flavor of the discussion in the Toomey Room of Town Hall as selectmen debated how to deal with the passage of Question 3 in last month’s election.

The board voted to direct Town Manager Wayne Marquis to have the town’s planning staff draft zoning definitions that take into account medical marijuana centers. Town Meeting would have to approve any zoning change.

“We need to be proactive,” Selectman Dan Bennett said. “We need to move ahead.”

“I am very firmly in support of finding a location for it because the voters wanted it,” Clark said. He noted that one of the leading horticultural crops in 34 states is marijuana.

“It’s up to us to find an appropriate location,” said Clark, who did not favor a dispensary near schools or near where children are.

Lucy favored a ban on marijuana dispensaries until regulations are in place governing their practices. He pointed out that the town, through zoning, can ban certain land uses. The medical marijuana law that passed last month is a state law, and federal law still bans marijuana as a controlled substance, so it might be possible a prohibition would stand, Lucy said. This was not the opinion of the rest of the board, however.

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