Selectmen oppose recreational marijuana shops, exploring prohibitions & restrictions

Last week, the Board of Selectmen put their “stake in the ground” by voting they won’t support recreation marijuana facilities in Southborough.

Next likely steps are working towards restrictive bylaws at the next Town Meeting and a 2018 ballot question to prohibit sales in town.

Chair Brian Shea opened the subject by stating that while state voters supported allowing recreational marijuana, Southborough residents voted against Article 4. He said that Town Counsel was attending an Attorney General’s seminar last Wednesday. There he was to learn more about how the Town can protect itself.

Dr. Safdar Medina, outspoken opponent of Question 4, asked selectmen to have counsel look into two more questions. Does the medical marijuana facility have the ability to sell recreational marijauna? Does the Town have any ability to restrict Question 4’s allowed growth of up to 12 marijuana plants at home?

Selectmen believe the agreement they have in place with the the medical marinuana dispensary protects them from the possibility of recreational sales. But they agreed that its worth a closer look in light of language in Question 4.

One area of concern to selectmen is the gap between when stores can open and when Towns can prohibit them.

Article 4 allows stores to sell recreational marijuana beginning in January 2018. Individual cities and towns can vote to prohibit stores, if 10% of voters sign a petition for a referendum question. But that vote can’t take place until the next semi-annual state election in November 2018. They wondered what towns are able/required to do during that gap.

Shea said that if they have a petition in hand for a referendum ballot in advance of January ’18 it would be a message to anyone seeking a license that the Town may vote to stop sales later that year. He hoped that would be enough to dissuade people from setting up shop in Southborough. 

The other measure that the Town can take in the meantime are bylaw restrictions on locations, hours, and signage. Other than that, it looks like all the Town can do is adopt rules restricting licenses to 20% of liquor stores in community.

Shea said that he and Planning Board Chair Don Morris talked about having selectmen create a Working Group to get community feedback and draft bylaw restrictions.

Former Planning Board member, Selectman Paul Cimino disagreed. He thought it made more sense for Planning to hold public hearings to get feedback for the bylaw. No vote was taken on the idea.


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7 years ago

I have no problem with the town deciding to prohibit stores in town. The idea of not allowing residents to grow plants – as allowed by the law – is appalling. I do not use marijuana and do not intend to start. But if – by law – I am allowed to purchase it (fine if in another town) or grow it, I absolutely will defend my right to do so.

7 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Yes, I was referring to Medina’s line of inquiry on the plants. The people voted and it is odd and troubling that he would continue to try to obstruct the issue at this point. I hope the selectmen dismiss the plant question.

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