The Planning Board last week began filling in some of the blanks in a new cannabis production bylaw it hopes to send to town meeting in the spring.
And it agreed to try to set up a panel discussion with outside experts for early December.
Berkshire Root's two-story, 100,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation facility got the OK from the Community Development Board but the next day the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to postpone its decision until November.
Since that time, the state's Cannabis Control Commission has defined ground rules for production in Massachusetts, and the town has seen one submission for a special permit under the 2017 bylaw to establish an indoor/outdoor grow facility on Blair Road.
Sparkboro Wellness, which lists a Pittsfield business address and Steve Pennisi as president, obtained the necessary town permitting to operate a store in a former garage at 1017 Simonds Road (Route 7).
We should not agree to postpone Article 33 until next year's town meeting. We'll need Article 33's insurance in the meantime against the intense development pressures we've already seen big cannabis bring to town.
The days of prohibition are over: today distilleries, breweries and vineyards are popular lucrative tourist attractions. Soon enough, we will realize that niche marijuana growing presents that same opportunity. Let's protect our Williamstown farmers' rare chance to do more than break even.
Digging a little deeper, the issues were typically associated with large industrial-scale operations, almost always with indoor production facilities, predominately in western states with far less stringent regulations than Massachusetts.
The Select Board on Monday was mostly unanimous in its recommendations to town meeting about the items on the annual meeting warrant.
But there were a few exceptions — principally on an issue that has dominated discussions at the Planning Board for months.
Although the board heard from both proponents and opponents of outdoor production during the hearing, it was clear that the winning argument came from the farmers: Marijuana is a legal cash crop that can potentially make their operations more economically viable.
Meanwhile, the Agricultural Commission is going forward with a plan to propose a competing bylaw amendment that would allow outdoor production by special permit and with more restrictive setback requirements than currently in place.
One of the articles brings the town's bylaw on non-conforming structures into compliance with the commonwealth's current law on the subject. Another creates a regulatory framework for long and common driveways.