City Council receives mayor's plan on marijuana regulations


PITTSFIELD -- Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi's proposal to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits is being sent to the Community Development Board for review.

The mayor said his draft proposal, drawn up by City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan and based in part on zoning proposals drafted in other communities, is intended as a starting point for further debate.

One councilor at large says it's too early to start regulating marijuana dispensaries locally. Barry J. Clairmont said he believes the proposal is premature since the state Department of Public Health has yet to develop regulations for the dispensaries, which were approved in Massachusetts through a citizen petition passed during the Nov. 6 election.

Bianchi says he wants to begin planning now "rather than get caught in a fire drill somewhere" should the state DPH regulations emerge sooner than expected.

Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop said he agrees with the need to debate these issues and suggested that methadone clinics might be included in the new ordinance.

The mayor's proposal refers to regulation of aspects of medical marijuana dispensaries and to zoning districts where they might be allowed -- non-residential zones and away from schools and churches.

Ward 1 Councilor Christine A. Yon asked if Degnan, the city's solicitor, would be available during the discussions to provide legal advice, and Bianchi said she would be directly involved.

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