Middleboro: Town officials consider possibility of medical marijuana facility

Middleboro Selectmen considered imposing a medical marijuana moratorium when they met Monday night; but, ultimately, rejected that idea.The board also rejected a move to zone the medical marijuana facilities to the adult entertainment district in southern Middleboro, after hearing from member Leilani Dalpe who cautioned the move could back potential businesses into a corner.

At issue is the state law that allows medical marijuana dispensaries. The licenses are issued by the Department of Public Health, but municipalities are allowed to decide if special permitting is required.

Town Manager Charles Cristello said without a zoning change marijuana dispensaries could crop up just about anywhere in town.

Selectman John Knowlton initially favored zoning the facilities in the adult entertainment zone, but agreed state regulations are enough to keep marijuana dispensaries away from schools and daycare centers.

Resident Patricia Gilmore cautioned selectmen to be business friendly, noting medical marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the region.

Although there’s been no formal proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary in Middleboro, Selectman Allin Frawley said he wants to be ready, just in case.

Selectmen unanimously voted to present a zoning change at October town meeting that would allow marijuana dispensaries in the general use areas of Middleboro, which are typically where retail operations are permitted.

The board agreed the zoning change might not be necessary,  and will consider regulating medical marijuana facilities through the local board of health after hearing from Health Officer Jeanne Spalding, who lobbied to use board of health regulations to oversee the dispensaries.

In the meantime officials plan to hold a marijuana workshop to educate the public.

Tim Keogh, executive director of Coastal Compassion, is looking to open a dispensary in Bristol County and sat in on Monday’s hearing. Keogh said the state expects to issue medical marijuana licenses by the first of January. Applicants are required to have $500,000 in financing, and if licensed be ready to plant the first seed within 120 days. Keogh says it takes 4-months to grow a crop.

About Alice Elwell

Alice Elwell is a freelance reporter who lives on the South Shore. She joined the WATD team to widen our coverage to include Middleboro. She can be reached at acelwell2@gmail.com.