To the Editor:
The recently enacted state law, pertaining to the marijuana industry, has put New Marlborough on the precipice of significant change. Many residents in the Town of New Marlborough are counting on the Planning Board to draft a rigorous set of bylaws commensurate with the impact this change will have on the entire town as it is zoned residential.
Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Attorney General, offered a 5-page letter of recommendations to Steven Hoffman, the Cannabis Control Commission chairman during the period of open comment. The letter dated February 15, 2018, states: “The proposed licensing of social consumption establishments – both ‘primary use’ and ‘mixed use’ – raises a number of public safety and policy concerns that warrant careful review and consideration. No other state currently authorizes the operation of establishments that serve marijuana to the public for on-site consumption.” The Attorney General goes on to state, “There is a learning curve for everyone, and we suggest that Massachusetts should take it slow and learn from the experience of other states in its initial roll-out of this new industry.”
On May 6, 2018 in a recent Boston Herald Editorial, “Slow Pot Rollout Makes Sense,” Hoffman was quoted as stating, that he “expects a limited marijuana marketplace this summer, even as commissioners opened the license application process to more applicants on Tuesday. Given the radical change and scope entailed in the rollout of pot establishments, there’s no problem with a measured, conservative debut for this new industry.”
The Boston Herald article goes on to state, “according to published reports, at least 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities have banned retail marijuana stores — and most have imposed restrictions on other marijuana businesses. It seems that despite approving recreational pot in concept, even cities and towns that backed a statewide referendum now have second thoughts about allowing the marijuana trade in practice.”
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission’s representative in attendance at New Marlborough’s recent meetings as well as the chairman of the Planning Board all seem to concur: a moratorium on marijuana establishments makes sense so a set of bylaws can be written commensurate with the anticipated impact this new industry will have on small communities such as ours.
“Proceed with caution” has been the mantra from the Massachusetts Attorney General, the chairman of the CCC, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission representative, the chairman of the New Marlborough Planning Board and the voters of the Town of New Marlborough.
The voters of the Town of New Marlborough who recently gave their overwhelming support for the moratorium are acutely aware of the need for a rigorous set of bylaws in light of the first special permit application recently reviewed. Residents are looking forward to an inclusive process that will be supported by the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen as these bylaws are deliberated and drafted for the benefit of all.