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Medical Marijuana

Whately supports temporary pot ban

WHATELY — Any medical marijuana treatment centers will have to wait before moving into Whately.

At a special town meeting Tuesday, the town approved a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation centers despite recent lobbying by Whately potato farmer James Pasiecnik and his partners, Nicholas Spagnola of Revere and Joshua Sodaitis of Somerville to drop the proposal.

The three partners did not attend the special town meeting, which voted 75-4 in favor of the temporary ban.

The moratorium will last until May 30, 2014 to give the Planning Board time to review state Department of Public Health regulations and consider new zoning bylaws. The town follows about 150 other cities and towns across the state who have enacted various moratoriums.

“There’s an awful lot to know. That’s why we’re asking for time,” said Planning Board member Judy Markland.

Pasiecnik has proposed opening a dispensary in Whately and a growing center on his farm property at 207 River Road under the nonprofit group JM Farm’s Patient Group.

The Pasiecnik group fears a moratorium could kill its chances for a state license.

The state will look at applications more favorably if the not-for-profits can distribute the marijuana product within 120 days after getting a license, Sodaitis said.

To address this, the Planning Board altered the original deadline of Sept. 30, believing the shortened time limit wouldn’t hamper Pasiecnik’s plans.

Future proposed zoning bylaws would go before voters again at the spring annual town meeting for final adoption.

Some residents argued the moratorium was prolonging the wait for medical care for some patients.

“I think it’s a detriment to the one proposed for the community,” said Fred Orloski. “We all know who’s proposing these facilities. Why postpone (Pasiecnik?) The state will look to other places in the county.”

Pasiecnik and his partners are in the running for one of the 35 available state licenses for a registered medical marijuana dispensary. He is one of five applicants vying for a Franklin County license.

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