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Health Board Supports Zoning for Commercial Marijuana Dispensaries

But, the board doesn't reach a consensus on two other components of the planning board's proposal.

The Westborough Board of Health, by consensus, supports having zoning for commercial marijuana dispensaries in town.

At the same time, the board on Tuesday night did not reach agreement on whether Westborough should totally ban such businesses.

The board also did not agree on whether Westborough should ban or have zoning for cultivating marijuana at home for medicinal use.

Voters at the March 16 annual town meeting will get the planning board’s proposed zoning bylaw that would ban marijuana dispensaries and personal cultivation. Additional language would allow these uses in a new overlay district in Westborough's adult entertainment district on Town Meeting Drive, by special permit, if the court rules the ban illegal.

The school committee unanimously voted last week to support the proposal.

The proposal is the Westborough planning board's response to Massachusetts' new medical marijuana law, which took effect Jan. 1. Voters approved the new law at the Nov. 6 statewide election. Westborough residents supported the measure, Question 3 on the ballot, 5,367 to 3,347.

Director of Public Health Paul McNulty said Town Meeting Drive is the location of

Herb Chambers Honda.

“Unless Herb Chambers went out of business or wanted to go on to the marijuana store business, there probably would not be any in Westborough,” McNulty said.

McNulty said that “my opinion would be just to wait and see what the Department of Public Health comes out with regarding their regulations” before the board of health responds.

Member Dr. Alan Ehrlich agreed.

“I think it is silly to really take much of a position until we hear what DPH has to say with respect to their guidance” on “how the law’s going to be implemented,” he said.

Chairman Dr. Nathan Walsh said Westborough could implement a response “that says it’s superseded by when they come up with their regulations.”

Ehrlich said the planning board’s proposed ban “seems to fly in the face of what I understood the state initiative to be about.”

“If you want to zone a dispensary is one thing. To say that no one in town is going to be able to use it for personal use for valid health reasons, when that’s precisely what the ballot initiative said it would do, I don’t see how they could do it,” he said.

Ehrlich said the diversion of marijuana to uses other than medical is Westborough’s primary issue.

“To me, the people of Massachusetts passed a law, and that’s the law of the state,” he said.

Walsh said that zoning for personal cultivation would allow Westborough to “inspect, keep track of, make sure there’s security around those areas that are sufficient for whatever amount of marijuana they’re growing.”

 

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