MA: Return Trip – It’s Back To Committee For Marijuana Ordinance

Photo Credit: Northeastern

More than a year after it was sent to committee, a marijuana zoning communication, which in part prohibited marijuana drive-thru windows, returned to the City Council.

Overall, the ordinance featured suggestions on appropriate zoning parameters, the number of allowed licenses, the application process, and overall implementation of recreational cannabis dispensaries for the city.

In the end, however, the council sent it back to where it came from: to the realm of committees.

(Read New Bedford’s proposed marijuana ordinance and see a map of the marijuana zones here.)

On Monday, the Committee on Licensing and Zoning for Cannabis had sent the ordinances to the full City Council, where on Thursday it was referred to the Planning Board and the Committee on Ordinances.

The regulations will be heard twice publicly through that committee and board.

If and when it returns to the council, it will have to have two readings. If it gets to Mayor Jon Mitchell, he has 10 days to sign the ordinance.

There is a Sept. 30 deadline, which represents the last day of the marijuana moratorium, associated with the process.

If for some reason it doesn’t reach the mayor or he doesn’t sign it, the regulations fall back to what the state provided.

“Keep in mind we have one meeting in July and one meeting in August in the City Council so we have to get moving,” Councilor-at-Large Ian Abreu, chair of the Committee on Licensing and Zoning for Cannabis, said.

Regulations proposed ranged from no marijuana drive-thru windows to the distance an facility could be from a school or park.

Here are a few of the key regulations:

It shall be unlawful for any Marijuana Establishment or Medical Marijuana Treatment Center to operate in the city without first obtaining a special permit from the Planning Board.

The special permit requirements shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other licensing and permitting requirements imposed by any other federal, state, or local law, including site plan review by the Planning Board.

No Marijuana Establishment or Medical Marijuana Treatment Center shall be located within 500 feet of any public or private school providing education in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12, licensed daycare center, nursery school, preschool, building operated as part of the campus of any private or public institution of higher learning, playground, park, public library, church, substance abuse treatment facility. Marijuana Establishment, or Medical Marijuana Treatment Center or 200 feet of any dwelling or dwelling unit.

The Planning Board shall limit the number of special permits issued to Marijuana Retailers to 20 percent of the number of licenses issued within the city for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

“It’s been quite a collaborative effort, it’s been a team effort to get this done,” Abreu said. “And it’s been a lot of give and take. It’s been back and forth. Some debate. Some additions, some subtractions. This is what bi-partisan government is supposed to be.”

Later in the meeting, Ward 6 Councilor Joseph P. Lopes and Abreu presented another marijuana related motion requesting that the administration adopt a 3 percent sales tax option for the sale of marijuana or marijuana products by a retailer. The motion was referred to the administration.