MRCC

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#MUNCIPAL #GUIDANCE: Pittsfield

The City Council on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a zoning amendment regulating the marijuana industry in Pittsfield. At 35, the limit on the number of allowed marijuana licenses matches the number of liquor licenses permitted in the city.

Councilors set the cap high enough to accommodate robust interest in opening marijuana facilities in Pittsfield.

“The level of interest has been pretty high,” said Nate Joyner, permitting coordinator for the Department of Community Development, who said he has heard from a dozen potential applicants.

The state this month began accepting license applications for businesses interested in opening retail marijuana operations under the November 2016 ballot referendum legalizing recreational use by adults. Retail sales could begin as early as July.

Berkshire Roots, a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation facility that opened last weekend, became the first marijuana business in the city. It is expected to apply for a retail license, as well as two other companies.

The limit of 35 licenses represents a middle ground between two earlier versions of the regulations: The Community Development Board last month approved a limit of 10 licenses, but the council’s Ordinances and Rules Committee last week recommended that no cap be set.

Councilors were persuaded to set some limits in response to concerns expressed by Board of Health members and leaders of the Berkshire Family YMCA and Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires. Those leaders, Randy Kinnas and Joe McGovern, respectively, also argued in favor of maintaining the 500-foot buffer for marijuana facilities. They were concerned about exposing the city’s youth to marijuana.