MA: City Preparing For Recreational Marijuana Sales

Photo Credit: AP Photo

With recreational marijuana sales expected to be allowed in the state, the city is now tasked with modifying its own marijuana regulations.

The Greenfield Planning Board this week began the process of replacing the city’s medical marijuana zoning ordinance with an ordinance that encompasses all registered marijuana establishments. The proposed amendment process comes as the state is on the verge of allowing recreational marijuana sales and Greenfield, since it has regulated medical marijuana sales, would allow for recreational sales, as well.

According to Director of Planning and Development Eric Twarog, the intent is to replace the existing medical marijuana ordinance with an ordinance addressing all marijuana establishments in the city, with adoption by the City Council in May or June.

The city currently has a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales, Twarog said, which ends June 30. If no ordinance is adopted, addressing recreational marijuana sales by the end of the moratorium, registered medical marijuana dispensaries, or RMDs as Twarog referred to them, would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana as well, once the state formally allows it.

Twarog recently submitted a draft ordinance to the Planning Board for all registered marijuana establishments that was based on a similar Easthampton ordinance, as well as a Montague bylaw. This draft was discussed for over an hour and modified during Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, with further modifications expected during the board’s next meeting April 5.

Among the changes discussed at Thursday’s meeting was the appropriate distance from schools, daycare centers, parks, playgrounds or youth centers, and regulations related to cultivation of marijuana in the city.

The drafted ordinance initially set a radius of 100 feet from the youth-related locations where sales could not occur. According to Twarog at the meeting, the radius can be between 0 to 500 feet.

According to Planning Board member George Touloumtzis, recreational marijuana’s regulation seemed equivalent to those facing alcohol and cigarettes, and, as such, asked, “why would we treat this differently than alcohol or cigarettes?”

The board debated the issue, making suggestions ranging from no buffer to 500 feet, before determining to strike the language for a buffer from the draft, though will consider the buffer again during their next meeting.

Regarding cultivation of marijuana in Greenfield, the Planning Board made the recommendation to prohibit cultivators within the city’s central commercial, limited commercial or health service zoning districts, and allowing cultivation in general commercial and general industry zoning districts only with a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Among the items still to be determined by the Planning Board is the amount of marijuana establishments allowed within the city and the distance between recreational marijuana sites.