Shelburne may extend pot moratorium

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 15, 2017

SHELBURNE — Because the newly formed state Cannabis Control Commission will not be rolling out regulations regarding recreational use of marijuana until March, town officials are considering whether to extend the town’s moratorium to December 2018.

In May, annual town meeting voters approved a moratorium that expires on June 30, but the Planning Board would like to extend the moratorium to December 2018, in line with several other local towns.

If the town doesn’t have a moratorium — or its own zoning plan for where cultivation facilities, testing facilities, product manufacturing and retail outlets can be — prospective marijuana businesses could apply for permits based only on the state criteria.

If Shelburne adopts a zoning bylaw for commercial marijuana facilities at annual town meeting, the bylaw wouldn’t take effect until, and if, it is approved by the Attorney General’s Office. That would leave a gap between when the moratorium expires and when the state accepts the zoning bylaw.

Selectboard Chairman Andrew Baker pointed out that police don’t have a way to measure intoxication, if someone was high on marijuana while driving. There are also unknowns about the provision for retail outlets: for instance, would recreational marijuana be available through package stores or through separate entities? Would users be restricted to using such products only at home or would public use be permitted? How does the town prevent marijuana from being redistributed to those under-age, and how will recreational marijuana use affect the character of the town?

Planning Board Chairman John Wheeler asked the Selectboard to put the issue before a special town meeting this spring, so the moratorium is in place when the new state regulations take effect.

The Planning Board already has a draft bylaw on zoning for marijuana cultivation facilities, testing facilities, product manufacturers and retailers, but wants more public feedback before it goes before a town meeting vote.