The selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to recommend Article 33 on the Town Meeting Warrant, which proposes a temporary moratorium for medical marijuana dispensaries. The Community Planning Commission was present at the meeting to explain why they suggested the moratorium.
Last November, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot proposal that allows medical marijuana sales in the state, which left cities and towns to set regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. North Reading is proposing a temporary moratorium to residents at Town Meeting, according to Community Planning Administrator Danielle McKnight. The moratorium would temporarily prevent anyone from licensing a dispensary in town, McKnight said.
If the moratorium is approved at Town Meeting, that will give officials the chance to craft a law that is good for North Reading and to site the dispensaries in a reasonable way, CPC Chairman Warren Pearce said. The moratorium will give officials a chance to see what other towns are doing with dispensaries and how it is working in other locations.
"There's still a lot more that we would like to look at we'd like to take our time and think carefully about how we want to regulate these now that we know more about what our options are," McKnight said.
Selectman Steve O'Leary asked, "What happens if someone petitions the town to bring one in now?"
McKnight said that she has spoken with the building inspector and "he thinks it's possible that there are uses that we already have in place that could be interpreted as including a medical marijuana dispensary, that's really a problem that most cities and towns have right now."
The moratorium is the fastest way to "put on the brakes," she said.
Selectmen Chairman Sean Delaney is in favor of the moratorium.
"I think this is the right approach," he said. "I think this is the right way to go about it."
The moratorium would last for 18 months and would give the CPC enough time to draft a bylaw to present at October Town Meeting in 2014.
The selectmen unanimously recommended the temporary moratorium. Residents can vote for or against it at Town Meeting in June.