Weymouth: Town considering medical marijuana ordinances

Weymouth is currently considering implementing two ordinances, one for zoning and one for licensing, for the regulation of potential Medical Marijuana dispensaries in town.

Mayor Susan Kay, the Planning Board, and other town officials gathered at the Town Council meeting Monday night for a public hearing on these ordinances.

Back in January 2013, Mayor Kay put together a “working group” including members of planning, police, law, health, building, and her office to work on these ordinances in order to protect the town.

Abigail McCabe, Principal Planner, went through zoning specifics. She said the dispensaries would be located in the I-1 Zoning Districts, which totals to 212 acres, about 1.8% of the town’s land.

James Clarke, Planning Director, said that the zoning objectives  are to allow, but limit the locations for the dispensaries, limit their visibility, and exclude residential use.

Daniel McCormack, Director of Public Health and member of the Board of Licensing Commissioners (BOLC), said the current ordinance draft includes  a limit of three dispensaries in the total zoned area, with operating hours of  7:00a.m  to 7:00p.m.

Additionally, the Police and Health Departments, and a Weymouth agent must be able to inspect the facilities at any time.

Several residents, Town Councilors, and Planning Board members echoed concerns about the three allowed dispensaries in the ordinance as it is currently written.

“It’s almost like an invitation,” Mary Akoury, member of the Planning Board said.

Mayor Kay said she would rather not have one at all, but the town measures will help to balance things out. “I’m the last one to want three dispensaries in town,” she said. “We don’t want one, actually.”

Some residents raised concerns that a police detail should be included in the regulations. “We’ll have to look at that, because somebody’s going to have to pay for it,” Mayor Kay said.

Other residents questioned how police would enforce the law when it comes to potential OUI’s.

Captain Richard Fuller said it will be more difficult for police to prove than alcohol. “As police, we’re entering uncharted waters” he said, “We’re sending people to training next month in regards to medical marijuana.”

Planning Board member Sandra Williams is concerned about patients growing on their own private property, especially in apartment complexes. “The landlord has a vested interest in that property,” she said.

McCormack responded, saying that the town is not going to enforce regulations on private property.

“Under the state law, it has a definition of hardships [and] if those patients can’t access a registered marijuana dispensing facility, they’re allowed to grow it in their own residential property,” McCormack said.

McCormack did add, however, that a property owner could create their own regulations to prohibit smoking and growing within a rental agreement. “But as a whole, the town’s not going to enforce our regulations on private property,” he said.

Other concerns raised at the hearing include fees (yet to be determined), license suspensions, and facility inspections.

McCormack said no one has applied at the state level for a dispensary license for Weymouth at this time.

Mayor Kay said the working group is going to review all of the concerns raised at the public hearing, make necessary changes if any, and then bring it before the Ordinance Committee. “We’ll settle it there,” she said.

About Samantha Tracey

Samantha Tracey graduated from Salem State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. She has been reporting on local issues in a variety of towns: Bridgewater, Abington, Carver, Weymouth, East Bridgewater, Hanson, Halifax, etc. She says growing up on the South Shore has made it interesting now to be covering news in such familiar places.