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Medical Marijuana

Greenfield considers pot farm pause

GREENFIELD — Greenfield is just one more town in Franklin County that has started discussing whether it wants to allow a medical marijuana dispensary.

This comes after Massachusetts voters approved a referendum legalizing marijuana for medical use last November. Then in May, the state Department of Health provided zoning, health and security regulations for the future dispensaries.

The state plans to allow 35 licenses, with up to five per county.

The town’s Planning Board voted unanimously Thursday to send a recommendation to Town Council to place a six-month moratorium on the issue to give the town time to craft an ordinance that would regulate such a facility.

The council is the board that will decide whether to place a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Originally, town leaders talked about a moratorium that would expire June 30, 2014, but the Planning Board and the council’s Economic Development Committee have both agreed that six months would be long enough to create an ordinance.

Richard Wedegartner, husband of Planning Board Chairwoman Roxann Wedegartner, told the board Thursday night that he has a friend who has gone through a battle with breast cancer and after watching her fight, would like to see a dispensary built in Greenfield.

“Chemo saved her life, but the downside was terrible nausea,” he said.

He said when his friend began using marijuana, it “worked great.”

He said he was there Thursday night to advocate for his friend and others who need marijuana for medical reasons, and he asked the board and others to do some research on how pot can be used for different ailments.

“Let’s get the zoning in place to make it happen,” said Wedegartner.

Most recently, Deerfield leaders said they do not oppose medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation farms in their town. Instead, some in Deerfield see it as an opportunity for jobs.

Montague officials are also discussing the issue and will hold a public hearing Aug. 27 to open that discussion up to residents. Those town leaders are thinking about different possibilities, including voting a moratorium while considering zoning changes, allowing a dispensary where it would be allowed under existing bylaws, but would be subject to special permitting, leaving the situation as is, or liberalizing the zoning and relaxing restrictions.

Greenfield Town Council will discuss dispensaries and a moratorium at its meeting in September.

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