SELECTMEN NOTEBOOK: Selectmen Support Ban On Recreational Marijuana Sales; May Be Added To Special Town Meeting Warrant For Vote

WILMINGTON, MA — At their last meeting, Selectmen unanimously supported Town Manager Jeff Hull’s recommendation to bring forth two articles at the 2018 Annual Town Meeting to ban recreational marijuana sales in Wilmington.

A “back-up” article to extend the town’s current moratorium on recreational marijuana sales from June 30, 2018 to December 31, 2018 was also supported by the board.

“At the 2017 Town Meeting, voters acted to place a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales to provide an opportunity for the town to look at the issue and develop a greater level of clarity on how the state was going to roll it out,” began Town Manager Jeff Hull.

“As it turns out, to a large degree, we don’t seem to have all that much more clarity now [than we did at Town Meeting in April] on the issue,” continued Hull.  “The regulations have not yet been state.  The Cannabis Control Commission was just recently established. The expectations is their regulations will be adopted sometime in the Spring of 2018. The concern is obviously that we need to have some sort of gamelan prior to the June 30th moratorium expiration.”

Hull explained that the legislators created a provision in the law that allows municipalities that voted against the ballot question in 2016 to bring before their legislative body (Town Meeting) an article to restrict recreational marijuana sales.

Wilmington narrowly voted against the recreational marijuana sale ballot question — 6,820 NO to 6,583 YES. Interestingly, the majority of day-of voters were in favor of the measure, but a larger majority of early voters were against it.

“Based on discussions internally and with Town Counsel, it is my recommendation that the board authorize the Town to go forward with two different articles,” announced Hull. “One article would modify the town’s current zoning bylaw to restrict the sale of marijuana products by eliminating the opportunity to sell them in any zones… The other article would modify the inhabitants bylaw to essentially do the same thing.”

Hull said both articles are necessary because current law isn’t clear which type of bylaw — zoning or inhabitant — needs to be modified.

“The Town Counsel’s recommendation is we be bring both before the voters and then the Massachusetts Attorney General will accept one or the other,” said Hull.

Hull noted that recreational marijuana sales won’t necessarily be banned in Wilmington forever.

“Since the state’s regulations haven’t been established yet, I believe the best course of action is to prohibit it,” reiterated Hull. “In the interim, when regulations are established and we understand how they work and what the implications of them are and see them in other communities, if the desire in the future is to then dial back and allow on a limited basis, then perhaps it could happen. I’m advocating for the more cautious approach.”

In response to a question from Selectman Ed Loud, who was concerned about what would happen if both articles failed, Planning Director Valerie Gingrich noted that a third article would be presented at the Town Meeting asking voters to extend the town’s current moratorium six additional months to the end of 2018.

Wilmington Apple has learned that instead of waiting for the Annual Town Meeting, Selectmen are now considering placing the above articles on the warrant for the upcoming Special Town Meeting.  That meeting will take place at some point over the next 6 weeks to address proposed zoning bylaw changes relative to detox centers.

Watch The Video:

Watch this discussion, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below beginning at the 38:14-mark.

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