The City Council of Newton has postponed voting on a temporary ban of recreational marijuana establishments, due to the absence of five city councillors at the Feb. 27 meeting. The proposal calls for a halting of all license applications until the end of the calendar year, so that the Zoning and Planning Committee will have more time to complete an analysis and create a plan for guidelines regarding the location and opening of recreational marijuana shops.
This is in contrast to the state standard for proposals, as the Cannabis Control Commission will begin to accept applications for business licensing on April 1. The final regulations from the state regarding policies and possession laws, however, will not be released until March 15.
According to Karyn Dean, committee clerk for the Zoning and Planning Committee in Newton, the release of the final regulations by the state is so close to the final deadline for licensing that it makes it a very difficult date to meet. The proposals have to go through the Zoning and Planning Committee, the City Council, and if passed, have to wait 20 days before they can go into effect. In order to do the research and analysis needed to create thoughtful and effective zoning coordinates, the committee said they need more time.
Approximately 90 other towns in Massachusetts have passed temporary moratoria on recreational establishments.
Some of the decisions they want to make, according to Newton Patch, were about establishing limits on the number of stores in Newton, having location and zoning regulations set in place, and having rules about cultivation or production facilities. A current medical marijuana distributor, Newton Garden Remedies, will be addressed at the City Council meeting in an amendment that will be introduced to exempt it from the temporary ban, Dean said.
The proposal has raised mixed responses from residents: some are upset by the delay, while others support the need to take more time to create regulations. The citizens who criticized the temporary ban cited the need of the city to listen to the voice of the people.
The residents of Newton voted “yes” to question four on Nov. 8, 2016, which legalized recreational marijuana use for adults ages 21 and over, with 54.7 percent in favor and 45.3 percent not in favor, according to the Patch.
“Voters voted one way,” Bob Cavanaugh, a resident of Newton, told the Newton Patch. “They ought to be taken into consideration.”
Another resident told the Newton Patch that she understood why they were delaying the establishments, stating the “desire to provide a supportive environment with constructive activities” for children in Newton as the chief reason.
The temporary ban will be presented to the full council on March 5, when it will decide if the extended time for zoning regulations is warranted. If it passes, businesses will not be able to apply for licenses until Dec. 31, 2018.
Featured Image Courtesy of Newton Patch