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Northfield voters to decide on whether to adopt marijuana regulations Monday

  • The Heirloom Collective, the marijuana grower on Route 10 in Bernardston, would not be allowed in Northfield under the proposed zoning bylaws, because it is not consistent with the appearance of other buildings in Northfield. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ



Staff Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2018

NORTHFIELD — Voters have a choice to either adopt a set of regulations on marijuana businesses, or to extend the town’s ban on marijuana businesses for another six months. It will be decided in a special town meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Valley Regional School.

Marijuana businesses have been banned from Northfield since the state legalized it, but the town’s moratorium expires at the end of 2018. If the moratorium expires and no marijuana-specific bylaws are in place by then, any marijuana businesses that open in Northfield will be regulated only by the existing laws that all businesses in town are subject to.

So at Monday’s town meeting, voters will see a set of bylaws that were drafted based on several community meetings with the Planning Board. If voters reject the bylaws as written, they can instead choose to extend the town’s moratorium until June 1, 2019.

The bylaws

Basically the proposed bylaws would restrict marijuana businesses — including growers and retailers — to a single area in town, and would impose rules on the businesses to ensure they fit with the style of the town.

Northfield’s marijuana district would be the stretch of Route 63 from Cross Road to the Erving town line, and the parallel part of Pine Meadow Road. Marijuana businesses would not be allowed outside of that area.

The buildings must be permanent structures (i.e., not trailers or tents), must be consistent in appearance with other buildings in town and must be smell-proof. Drive-throughs will not be allowed.

All marijuana businesses must be at least 500 feet from any daycare centers or K-12 schools. Businesses will not be allowed to distribute marketing materials to children or “to suffer minors to view displays or linger on the premises.”

There would also be a rule against smoking or eating marijuana on premises of any business or social club, effectively prohibiting restaurants or coffee shops from allowing smoking.

For growers, all plants must be kept indoors.

The number of retailers in town would be limited to 20 percent of the number of liquor licenses the town has, rounded up to the next highest whole number. Currently Northfield has six liquor licenses, which would allow for two marijuana retailers in town.