At special TM, Westhampton OKs regulations for medical marijuana, sets moratorium on retail shops

  • Westhampton Town Hall

Monday, February 12, 2018

WESTHAMPTON — Residents at a special Town Meeting Monday approved new regulations governing medical marijuana dispensaries, and placed a moratorium on recreational establishments.

The moratorium on recreational sales, which passed unanimously by 54 voters, is in effect until the end of the year, or until local regulations are decided.

John Shaw, chairman of the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee, said the moratorium gives the town time to review the state’s regulations on recreational marijuana — which the state Cannabis Control Commission is required to issue by March 15 — and establish local regulations.

Even with the moratorium, residents are still allowed to grow up to 12 plants at their home, Shaw said.

When it comes to medical marijuana, voters passed regulations on dispensaries, which include establishments for cultivation and supplying medical marijuana, as well as dispensaries that only sell marijuana and related products.

Such establishments must be located on a lot of at least 80,000 square feet, have at least 300 feet of frontage, and have setbacks from the property line of at least 100 feet around the whole building. The buildings cannot be more than 35 feet high and no more than two stories.

The dispensaries must be equipped with a ventilation system that ensures no odor of cannabis or its processing can be detected from outside the facility.

“If you walk by and you smell marijuana, they’re in violation,” Shaw said.

Facilities must be at least 500 feet from a school or child care operator, and cannot be located inside a building with residential units.

One resident asked why cannabis is not being considered a crop like corn.

“Marijuana growth is not agriculture,” Shaw said, noting that the law does not define it that way. “It’s not like corn or hay or anything like that.”

In other business, voters took no action on a cellphone tower bylaw after the town’s attorney found language that should be revised, according to Shaw.

The Zoning Bylaw Review Committee has been working to review the town’s 23-year-old bylaws, which were last revised in 1995. Shaw said the town does not have an appropriate and up-to-date bylaw to regulate and zone today’s cellphone towers.

“There’s three in town already,” Shaw said. “They’re not allowed. How they got there, I don’t know.”