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Marijuana Policy Advisory Committee

Background

•Voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved a ballot initiative in November, 2016 which legalizes the sale of marijuana throughout the Commonwealth.
•Easton Town Meeting adopted a moratorium on the sale of marijuana within the Town to run through June 30, 2018.
•The Selectmen, in order to adequately plan for the necessary regulation and/or prohibition of marijuana within the moratorium period, voted to establish the Marijuana Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) in September of 2017.
•MPAC consists of representatives of the Selectmen, Planning and Zoning Board, Board of Health, and Police Department.
•MPAC’s mission is to report policy advisories and/or recommendations for policy planning as it pertains to the passage of House Bill No. 3818 An Act to ensure safe access to medical and adult-use of marijuana in the Commonwealth, to the Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, Planning and Zoning Board, and any other applicable public body. View the full MPAC Charge here. 

Members 

Name  Position  
Dottie Fulginiti  Board of Selectmen Representative  
Wayne Benson   Planning & Zoning Board Representative  
Laura Arboleda  Board of Health Representative  
Keith Boone  Deputy Police Chief & EPD Representative  

MPAC Annual Town Meeting Warrant Recommendation Presentation to the Board of Selectmen - April 23, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When did recreational marijuana become legal in Massachusetts?

A: The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Question 4, was on the November 2016 general election ballot.  By approving this ballet initiative, Massachusetts voters voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, with retail sales beginning in 2018.  Easton voted against the ballet initiative with 5,929 votes cast in favor and 6,887 votes cast against Question 4.

 

Q: Didn’t the Town already adopt a moratorium on recreational marijuana?

A: In May of 2017, Town meeting voted to adopt a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana sales and cultivation in Easton through June 30, 2018 to allow the town to plan for the legalization and to explore its options for local regulation of recreational marijuana.  During this same time, the state Cannabis Control Commission has been working to develop state wide regulations, which will be finalized on March 15, 2018. 

 

Q: What is the Marijuana Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC)?

A: The Board of Selectmen, in order to adequately plan for the necessary regulation and/or prohibition of marijuana within the moratorium period, voted to establish the MPAC in September of 2017.  The MPAC consists of representatives of the Board of Selectmen, Planning and Zoning Board, Board of Health, and Police Department.  The MPAC’s charge is to 1. Identify the potential impact of businesses that sell, grow, manufacture, or test recreational marijuana products; 2. Identify potential conflicts or vulnerabilities that may exist between the Town’s position on Medical marijuana and Recreational marijuana businesses; 3. Identify potential impact of provisions within the law that allow for the growth of marijuana plants by individuals in their residences; and 4. Identify and possibly suggest the promulgation of regulations and/or by laws and policies as they pertain to the regulation or prohibition of businesses that sell, grow, manufacture, or test recreational marijuana products. View the full MPAC Charge (linked here).

 

Q: What options does the town have to ban or restrict recreational marijuana businesses?

A: Because the town voted “no” on Question 4, Easton can vote to prohibit all or some types of uses (cultivators, retailers, manufacturers, testing labs, and any other licensed marijuana-related businesses) and regulate the “time, place, or manner” of one or more type of uses by passing a bylaw at Town Meeting.  At this time, the MPAC has recommended two options for consideration at Annual Town Meeting on May 21, 2018.  One option will be for a full ban of all recreational marijuana uses.  The other option, in the event that the voters of Town Meeting do not wish to prohibit all uses, is a ban on retail recreational marijuana sales with the option for cultivation, manufacture and testing facilities via an overlay district and special licenses only available by a vote of the Board of Selectmen (similar to alcohol licenses).  See the draft consent agenda A and B (linked here).  This draft now goes to the Planning Board for their review and a public hearing.  When the process has been completed by the Planning Board, the MPAC will present the finished product to the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee.

Please note: It has been discussed during public meetings that if Town Meeting does not vote to fully ban retail recreational marijuana, there is concern that there would be no rules (bylaws) in place to control where and how those establishments would operate. The second consent agenda (version B) is meant to address that scenario.

 

Q. If the Town votes to ban recreational marijuana outright, why are zoning changes also needed?

A. The Attorney General’s office has advised communities that vote to ban all recreational marijuana establishments to also amend their zoning to clearly indicate that all recreational marijuana establishments are not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts.

 

Q. If the Town does not vote to ban recreational marijuana outright, can the town simply disallow any marijuana establishments in any of the town’s zoning districts.

A. If the Town does not vote to ban recreational marijuana outright, or does not vote to allow only certain establishments, the town cannot prohibit recreational marijuana establishments through zoning.

 

Q. I don’t understand; if the town can’t prohibit recreational marijuana through zoning, why are zoning amendments specific to recreational marijuana being proposed?

A. The Attorney General’s office has advised, even in the instance where a community votes to prohibit recreational marijuana establishments, that the zoning be amended to reflect the disallowance of any recreational marijuana establishments. If the Town doesn’t vote to prohibit all marijuana establishments, but votes to allow all or certain marijuana establishments, the purpose for amending the zoning is to indicate where such establishments will be allowed.

 

Q: Will the Town make it illegal to consume marijuana products?

A: Under MGL 94G, adult consumption of marijuana is legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The Town can, and already prohibits, the consumption of marijuana in public buildings and on public properties under bylaw Chapter 188.  The town cannot prohibit the private adult consumption of marijuana and cannot prohibit adults from growing their own marijuana at home.

 

Q: How does this effect Medical Marijuana?

A: Any ban or restriction on recreational marijuana will have no effect on medical marijuana.  The town adopted a Medical Marijuana Overlay Zone in 2014 which provides for the placement of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.


Planning & Zoning Board Presentation: Adult Use Marijuana - What are the Options? - February 26, 2018

News


December 14, 2017: Marijuana Policy Advisory Committee to Hold Public Listening Session on Marijuana Policy Planning
December 5, 2017: Taunton Gazette Article and Map highlighting status of Massachusetts municipalities' marijuana policy

Documents

Please visit our Documents on Demand page by clicking "Minutes, Agendas, Documents" to your left. From there, click on "Marijuana Policy Advisory Committee" and "Documents"

Questions?

If you have any questions regarding the Marijuana Policy Advisory Committee, please contact the Town Administrator at cread@easton.ma.us