Articles 31-33: Prohibit/restrict recreational marijuana sales, cultivation, research and more (Updated)

Above: Town Meeting voters will decide if businesses are allowed to sell, or even cultivate/test recreational marijuana in Town. And if so, how restricted will it be? (Image posted to flickr by mark)

Town officials are looking to make Southborough dry – pot-wise, that is.

On Monday night, Board of Selectmen Chair Brian Shea likened proposed bylaws to alcohol regulations*. Liquor is legal in the state, but there are a number of “dry communities” where the sale of alcohol is illegal.

To the dismay of some of you – and relief of others – the Town won’t (and can’t) outlaw personal use and cultivation.

The Town’s push is to prohibit businesses. And their efforts are in response to requests from residents.

Annual Town Meeting Articles 31 & 32 propose to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses from operating in Town. Those businesses aren’t just marijuana retailers. Proposed bylaws would ban any non-medical use businesses related to the drug. That includes testing facilities, cultivators, and product manufacturers.

In November, Southborough voters weighed in on the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. 56% opposed it while only 43% supported it.

As you know, the statewide outcome was different. And while the details and timeline are still hazy, regulated sales of recreational marijuana will become legal soon.

Given the public outcry from parents over a medical dispensary on Route 9 – it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that some residents quickly reached out to Town officials after the election.

Shea told Advisory that residents wanted to know how officials would “protect” our Town.

The Planning Board agreed to take on the project. Getting advice from Town Counsel, they came up with Articles 31-33. 

Articles 31 & 32 are the versions supported by Planning, Selectmen and the majority of Advisory. The articles were developed based on feedback that the Town of Westborough received from the state when they pursued a prohibition.

If those fail, voters will be given the option of adopting Article 33. That article would regulate recreational marijuana businesses and greatly restrict zoning. (Once again – all businesses.)

Advisory member Karen Muggeridge said she opposed treating businesses like cultivation the same as retailers. Member Kathy Cook agreed, but voted for the articles in support of the majority of Southborough ballot voters.

The feedback was a surprise to Planning member Jesse Stein. He told Muggeridge that over multiple meetings and two public hearings no one had voiced that concern. He opined that he was personally against cultivation in Southborough. But he thanked her for the feedback as he prepares for Town Meeting.

At Planning Board public hearings, one resident asked about prohibiting personal cultivation. (He learned that wasn’t allowed.) And another asked for an increased buffer from residences in Article 33. The current zoning buffer is 100 feet from residential properties. But increasing that would effectively ban facilities. (If voters reject an outright ban, officials aren’t allowed to effectively sneak one in through unreasonable regulations.)

The articles are part of what voters will decide at this year’s Annual Town Meeting. The meeting opens on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:00 pm at Trottier.

To see the full articles, open the Warrant, and scroll down to page 48.

*Shea credited the dry town analogy to Planning Board Chair Don Morris from Planning Board hearings.

Updated (4/12/17 2:37 pm): Below are the maps showing the area that businesses would be restricted to under Article 33. Click thumbnails to open pdf files.

rec marijuana proposed allowed areas rec marijuana proposed allowed areas 2

  • © 2024 — All rights reserved.