Pittsfield Panel Readies Medical Marijuana ZoningBy Joe Durwin
12:29PM / Wednesday, May 08, 2013
The Community Development Board approved a final version of zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries to send to City Council.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board on Tuesday approved a refined application to amend the city's zoning ordinance to regulate medicinal cannabis dispensaries, applications for which the city expects to begin seeing in the near future.
"I think we did a good job of making sure this was all inclusive, and in line with state regulations, so that Pittsfield can be proactive, and we'll be ready to go as soon as the state allows it," said associate board member David Hathaway.
Massachusetts voters approved the establishment of programs for using cannabis, or marijuana, in medical treatment last fall, and while towns and cities cannot bar them from opening, they can control some aspects of their zoning.
The Department of Health has recently concluded a period of public input on the issue and the commonwealth is expected to ratify a set of regulations in late May.
The proposed Pittsfield ordinance language stipulates that these medical dispensaries be located at least 500 feet away from any public or private school, and that all cultivation and storage of the material be in a secure, locked environment. Cultivation of plants must take place at the same site it is dispensed, unless the nonprofit applying to open such a dispensary can provide proof of another registered cultivation operation at another site.
The draft ordinance has also been revised to acknowledge that in cases where the DPH determines a hardship eligibility, some patients may be permitted to cultivate plants at their own residences for their personal use.
"We don't know exactly who it is that's going to come to us," said City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan. "We're not trying to regulate those hardship cases, merely just nonprofit medical marijuana treatment centers."
The zoning amendment to establish this use group and regulations will now return to the City Council for final approval to be added to the city code.