Recreational marijuana bylaw in progress

Apr 5, 2018

With the start of recreational marijuana sales approaching, the Planning Board is working on new zoning bylaws to submit in time for Fall Town Meeting.

The town's moratorium on recreational sales ends in December. Despite there being little guidance from state officials on how to handle zoning, the board is taking precautions to ensure it’s not precluding businesses from opening up.

Currently, zoning laws are codified only for medical facilities. One facility has been approved on Faunce Corner Road but is not yet open.

Board member John Sousa said he would like to have recreational businesses in the limited use areas away from churches and schools, similar to the medical system.

The town’s current medical zoning bylaw does not allow two facilities to be located within 4,000 feet of each other. The idea was pitched at a recent meeting, but it could be tricky – by right, medical facilities can offer recreational marijuana even if the area isn’t zoned for such purposes. This makes it harder to infer zoning laws without pushing some businesses out of the zoning district.

Planning Board member Kevin Mello then suggested not allowing two marijuana facilities within 4,000 feet of each other.

“Then you’re regulating it out of business because if we have an existing one in the district already– the reason we did 4,000 feet is because there was only room for two,” board member Lorri-Ann Miller said. “If you say within 4,000 feet of medical or recreational, you’ve literally zoned it out of town.”

Sousa also noted once recreational use becomes more common and accepted then perhaps the board could look at expanding the zoning area.

Hansen noted the board must also consider there will be no public use of marijuana at those businesses and no home delivery.

The next step is getting comments from both Dartmouth Police Chief Brian Levesque and Board of Health Director Christopher Michaud before writing the bylaw.