What regulations are proposed for recreational marijuana?
State regulations currently place some restrictions on the stores, such as prohibiting them from opening within 500 feet of a school or anywhere children normally congregate.
Voters at Town Meeting will be asked to approve three bylaws related to zoning (where in town the retail stores can be located) and one that addresses whether the town should collect a 3 percent tax from recreational marijuana sales. Three percent is the maximum amount of tax allowed for retail marijuana in Massachusetts.
Currently proposed regulations would limit the number of recreational marijuana shops in Wareham to three, tied to the number of liquor stores in town. The state recommends limiting pot shops to less than 20 percent of the number of package stores. In Wareham, there are 13 package stores.
If adopted, the bylaws would also require stores to open in the general commercial, strip commercial and institutional districts.
The general commercial district stretches on both sides of Route 28 from the I-195 on-ramp to the area of Robertson’s Auto Salvage. The strip commercial district is located just past Robertson’s Auto Salvage on Route 25 and extends to the Bourne town line. The institutional district is located near Tobey Hospital.
If the bylaws do not pass at Town Meeting, the town will be left without local rules governing retail marijuana. Again, the time to influence the content of the proposed bylaws is at the Feb. 12 public hearing.
Who came up with these proposals?
Zoning bylaws are drafted by the Planning Board. The Board of Selectmen proposed the tax. Both must be approved by Town Meeting voters in order to take effect.
Why a Special Town Meeting?
The state has an April 1 deadline for passing its own recreational marijuana regulations. April 1 marks the first day the Cannabis Control Commission must start accepting applications from potential marijuana retailers, cultivators and product manufacturers.
If the town does not approve local bylaws regulating recreational marijuana before April 1, it could have no say in how many or where retail stores can operate, or whether or how much sales will be taxed.
The town has a ban, or “moratorium” on recreational marijuana sales until June 30, a move made because officials knew it would take time to draft local bylaws. Even if applications are approved, retail establishments would be unable to open in Wareham until after that date.
Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.