PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is considering capping the number of marijuana retailers at 10.
The Department of Community Development has proposed zoning regulations to guide where an establishment can go. Those regulations would cap the number of retailers at 10, three more than the required minimum.
"The state licensing process will be measured at first so I don't think we'd be running into that cap too early," said Permitting Coordinator Nate Joyner.
Joyner said the state requires an equal number of retailers as the number of package store liquor licenses — which is seven in Pittsfield. He said there are already three medical marijuana permits issued. Those two factors added together is how the department decided on 10.
He added that based on the ratio of establishments in California, 10 is on par for a community of Pittsfield's size. However, he added that Colorado's ratios are significantly higher so there is a range.
City Planner CJ Hoss said the cap is self-imposed and if the city does hit it, the department would bring that information to the board for further discussion about raising it.
The Community Development Board will sponsor the ordinance change, which will require a public hearing and City Council approval. The board agreed to start that process Tuesday night.
The city already has medical marijuana ordinances in place. However, with the approval of recreational marijuana, the city is updating those regulations. Joyner said the proposal essentially deletes the medical marijuana ordinance and replaces it with a new one since both medical and recreational will be guided by the state's Cannabis Control Commission.
Pittsfield will allow the four land use categories — cultivation, retail, testing and laboratory, and manufacturing and process. The proposal also adds a category for outdoor marijuana among the agricultural uses.
Joyner said the establishments would require a special permit in the commercial and industrial zones.
The changes also align the language with the terms the state is using to guide the industry. The Cannabis Control Commission is tasked with promulgating the regulations by March 15. Permits will be issued shortly after and in July retailers can begin selling.
The industry will be heavily controlled by the state, giving little responsibility to the cities and towns. However, communities do have the ability to control and limit where the establishments open.
The Health Department last week said it is watching the regulations, mostly to keep an eye on any setbacks proposed either by the city or state. The department wants to make sure the establishments aren't too close to schools and parks.
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