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Council approves temporary marijuana moratorium

Date: 10/11/2013

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM – At its last meeting, the City Council unanimously approved an eight-month temporary marijuana moratorium. Marijuana use for any reason remains illegal under Federal law.

“The moratorium gives us the opportunity to research the new law and allows us time to provide adequate zoning regulations,” Christopher Johnson, council president, said.

Johnson said his understanding of the statute is that the “growing facility must be linked to a retail dispensary,” and that the council seeks clarity whether both establishments must reside within the same city or town.

Resolution TOR-2013-7 states, “Currently, under the Zoning Bylaw, a medical marijuana treatment center is not a permitted use in the town and any regulations promulgated by the state department of Public Health are expected to provide guidance to the town in regulating medical marijuana, including medical marijuana treatment centers.”

Johnson noted that the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) is working on a “model ordinance” that can serve for multiple communities upon validation from Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Massachusetts became the eighteenth state to approve medical use of marijuana when 63.3 percent of voters supported the ballot question in the Nov. 6, 2012 election.

The law became effective Jan. 1. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines for the law went into effect May 24.

On its website, the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy states, “Regardless of state laws to the contrary, there is no such thing as ‘medical’ marijuana under Federal law. Marijuana continues to be a Schedule I substance meaning that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”