Planning Board supports temporary marijuana business ban
The question of temporarily banning the sale of recreational marijuana in Wareham will be before voters at the April 24 Town Meeting.
On Monday night, the Planning Board threw its support behind the measure following a public hearing. In November, a majority of Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana. But exactly how that decision is rolled out for potential retailers must decided by state officials over the next year and half.
In the meantime, Director of Planning & Community Development Kenneth Buckland said local officials are taking a wait-and-see approach, hence the moratorium.
“The process is in flux right now, and its a process that will last until the beginning of next year, when the state prepares initial regulations for marijuana facilities,” said Buckland.
Should voters adopt the moratorium, recreational marijuana facilities will be barred from opening until June 30, 2018 at the earliest. Under the voter-approved ballot question, recreational sales were set to begin in January 2018. Earlier this year, the Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill that pushed that date back to the middle of 2018.
Buckland said that gives Wareham time to weigh its options when it comes to recreational marijuana. The moratorium does not affect the sale of medical marijuana, which has been legal in Massachusetts since 2012.
“So, we have a moratorium proposed for the middle of next year, after which point we should know what the initial regulations should be,” said Buckland. “At that time, we can do planning and find whether or not people want to prohibit or regulate marijuana in town.”
At the state level, the governor will appoint a Cannabis Advisory Board in August. By September, a Cannabis Control Commission will be tasked with exploring regulations. The state deadline for adopting rules for the sale of recreational marijuana is July 1, 2018.
Wareham’s Town Meeting will be held Monday, April, 24 starting at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium. All registered voters are welcome to participate.