Marion Voters Pass Marijuana Moratorium

There was one collective ‘aye’ and one lonely ‘nay’ during Thursday night’s Special Town Meeting vote to adopt a moratorium on so-called ‘Adult-Use Marijuana’ commercial establishments.

The moratorium will temporary halt any recreational marijuana dispensaries from moving into Marion as the Commonwealth poises to release its own final legislation regulating statewide marijuana sales on March 1, leading to an April 1 acceptance of adult-use marijuana dispensaries.

Although licensing for legal marijuana sales establishments is highly regulated under the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s draft regulations, the moratorium would allow municipalities time to review the state’s regulations and devise its own zoning regulations on potential placement of marijuana dispensaries.

The moratorium, however, is only in effect until December 31 of this year.

Selectman Steve Gonsalves introduced Article 1 proposing to amend the Town’s Zoning Bylaw by adding a new section to include the moratorium.

“The only issue before the voter this evening is whether or not we will act to request a moratorium,” said Gonsalves.

Marion voters during the 2016 November election passed ballot Question 4 to legalize marijuana “but regulate it in ways similar to alcoholic beverages.”

Planning Board Chairman Eileen Marum addressed the voters on Thursday night, saying, “I recommend that we pass the article, and the Planning Board has unanimously supported the moratorium.”

Marion resident John Conway approached the microphone just before the vote and pointed out that nearly a third of Massachusetts municipalities so far have adopted either a temporary or permanent ban on legal marijuana establishments. He urged legislators and town officials to look to the State of Colorado for information before looking into specific laws on zoning, local taxation, and other things like signage. “I think planning ahead of time makes sense.”

Conway added, as a pediatrician, that he holds concerns about teen use of marijuana. “We do see a lot of lives crumbling because of it… I know that this increases our job as pediatricians.”

Article 2 requesting $138,730 from certified free cash to replace the boiler at the Town House passed unanimously, paving the way for a new heating system.

The Town House has been using an external temporary heating source to warm the space since the heating system broke down on December 19.

Selectman Norm Hills introduced the article and said the 50-year-old gas-fired cast iron boiler had been kept in operation past its anticipated life expectancy through a “Band-Aid approach” as the Town decided whether it was going to renovate the Town House or rebuild.

The Finance Committee recommended the article, with Chairman Alan Minard saying, “Basically we’re between a rock and a hard place for providing heat for our employees and [the public]…”

The article as printed in the warrant originally requested a sum of $158,460, but a significant cost savings resulted from switching the temporary heater from a diesel-fueled generator to a gas-powered source.

Minard assured voters that there was indeed enough free cash to cover the cost of the repair, and facilities Director Shaun Cormier said the replacement boiler is convertible should it ever need to be relocated to another building, for instance a new town administration building should the Town House ultimately change its use as a town hall.

The Special Town Meeting was adjourned in just about fifteen minutes.

Marion Special Town Meeting

By Jean Perry


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