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Town’s Officials Are Butting Heads on Marijuana Bylaws

MMJ States

Adams, Massachusetts’s town administrator and Planning Board aren’t on the same page when it comes to marijuana. The town administrator wants a less restrictive medical marijuana bylaw while the Planning Board is considering a marijuana ban in the town.

Tony Mazzucco, the Town Administrator, answered questions asked by the Planning Board last week, according to iBerkshires.com. A letter of non-opposition was recently approved by the Selectmen regarding a medical marijuana dispensary. Mission Massachusetts is interested in opening up shop in the town’s downtown area.

Mazzucco said, “We should have a good medical marijuana bylaw that encourages it because it is a good economic generator. Our problem downtown is that there is not enough business and people visiting…if 30 more people a day visit the downtown that creates more vibrancy.”

The town doesn’t have a bylaw of its own so it’s following state mandates. The mandate requires dispensaries to be 500-feet from any place where children convene regularly.

Mazzucco recommended a 100-foot requirement stating that Adams is “dense”, so locations in the town’s center would be difficult under state mandates.

Police Chief Richard Tarsa wants the Planning Board to uphold the 500-foot requirement. The dispensary would only have the option of opening up on the outskirts of town.

Chief Tarsa said, “If you think it’s going to bring business it only will for them because they are going to come in and buy what they need and go home. They aren’t going to stay here and peruse the street….I am sorry but this is wrong.”

Some believe this is just a way for the dispensary to set up shop before recreational sales become legal. The dispensary would have to apply for change of use permitting if that were the case.

Building Commissioner Don Torrico understands the police chief’s concerns but doesn’t agree with them.

Torrico said, “Many people who have different afflictions benefit from medical marijuana…they are respectful people not drug addicts. This is for relief so what is everyone so scared of? You aren’t afraid of people coming right out of Rite Aid with something 10 times as powerful.”

Mazzucco wants the dispensary to be thought of as a pharmacy.

Barbara Ziemba, who is for including the buffer zone to include churches, said, “They go to church and they go home the people buy their marijuana and leave. Same thing with a liquor store. They get what they need and go home, they don’t stand in the parking lot and drink – I don’t see what the fuss is, it’s not like church is 24/7.”

Another meeting will be held in the near future regarding the dispensary before moving onto a public hearing.