Citizens Petition for Cannabis Ban Article

Thirty Marion residents have put their signatures on a Citizen Petition requesting an article be placed on the 2019 Annual Town Meeting warrant calling for a prohibition of adult use cannabis establishments in Marion.

This prohibition would include establishments that sell, distribute, cultivate, process, or package cannabis in any form.

Submitted by Henry Mauro of 19 Ichabod Lane, the petition was time stamped by the Town Clerk’s Office on November 8, but not introduced to the Marion Board of Selectmen’s agenda under the correspondence section until the December 18 meeting. The petition, however, was not discussed during the meeting.

A citizen petition requires a minimum of 10 verified signatures from registered voters for the Annual Town Meeting warrant.

Adding an article to the Town Meeting warrant is the first step Marion would need to take towards prohibiting adult use cannabis operations in town, given that voters approved the legalization of adult use marijuana by a narrow margin during the November 2016 state election. If voters adopt the article at Town Meeting, then the matter must move forward as a ballot question on the Annual Election ballot before prohibition is official.

Should the processing, cultivation, and sale of adult use cannabis products be banned in Marion, use of marijuana products remains legal, and adult residents would still be allowed to cultivate up to six plants per adult for a maximum of 12 cannabis plants per household for personal use.

Medical marijuana establishments would remain legal in Marion, but are restricted to the Marijuana Zoning Bylaw designated area, the Limited Industrial Zone located near the Sippican Industrial Park off Route 6.

In other news, the selectmen have authorized Town Administrator Paul Dawson to request a Reserve Fund Transfer from the Finance Committee for $6,000 to engage Weston & Sampson in a contract to explore solid waste and recycling options for the Town.

Temporary Department of Public Works Superintendent Jon Henry initiated the discussion with representatives from Weston & Sampson, with verbal support from Selectmen Jon Waterman and Randy Parker. Henry asked, should the Town outsource its trash collection and where should the solid waste be disposed of once the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District (CMWRRDD) contract with SEMASS expires at the close of 2020?

Board of Selectmen Chairman Norm Hills was concerned about redundancy, given that the CMWRRDD just hired a new executive director to explore these very options, but Parker felt the board should be leading this matter, saying, “Two years is a short time.”

“Having an engineer on board along the way, as a tool for them,” said Parker. “It’ll give us a little lead on what we should be doing. … Two years municipal time is tomorrow.”

But the CMWRRDD does have a contract to honor, Hills pointed out. “But it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan,” said Parker. “We need some leverage.”

“I think it’s a good investment for us without committing,” said Waterman. “I’m not convinced there’s benefits to sticking with the CMW long term.”

“I think it’s a tool that will actually pay a dividend in the end and keep us ahead of the curve,” said Parker.

There are several options the Town could adopt, said Waterman, including buying a new truck for waste collection, outsource curbside collection, or privatize.

“Any option voters will need to approve and maybe seek an override,” said Waterman.

“Any of those options are going to cost the voter more money.” He later said, “Maybe the CMW’s the best way to go long term, but we also have to think, is there an alternative … and what does that look like?”

“We’re not gonna make the ultimate decision; the voters are going to make the ultimate decision,” said Parker.

“I think it does have to be based on voter feedback,” Waterman said.

If the Finance Committee approves the Reserve Fund Transfer, the selectmen have authorized Dawson to execute a contract with Weston & Sampson.

Also during the meeting, the board approved Police Chief John Garcia’s request to change Lt. Richard Nighelli’s appointment as Lieutenant from probationary to permanent.

The board approved a petition from Verizon and Eversource to relocate a utility pole on Spring Street to accommodate the new Buzzards Bay Coalition building.

Dawson also received permission to apply for recertification of the Town’s Tree City USA status.

The board also acknowledged Dawson’s birthday after the meeting during a short celebration with cake before entering into executive session for legal strategy related to the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s lawsuit against the Town.

The next regular meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for January 8 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry

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