North Adams expands pot regs to include medicinal facilities

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NORTH ADAMS — Tweaks to the city's ordinances for licensed marijuana establishments have expanded the regulations to include medical marijuana establishments.

The changes, approved by the Planning Board last week and now headed to the City Council for final approval, reflect the disparity between the draft regulations introduced by the state Cannabis Control Commission and what it ultimately enacted. The revisions, made under the guidance of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, do not change the intent and substance of the ordinance.

The adjustments include tweaking language so that the regulations apply to both recreational and medical marijuana establishments and place a limit of one medical marijuana establishment citywide.

The regulations also limit marijuana retailers to commercial and industrial zones and all other marijuana businesses to industrial zones only.

Marijuana retailers must also be at least 500 feet away from "any school, day care center or similar facility where organized youth activities occur."

All marijuana businesses require a special permit from the city's Planning Board.

During a joint public hearing of the Planning Board and City Council, Councilor Eric Buddington reiterated his previously stated position that the number of available licenses for marijuana businesses should be a fixed number. The ordinance currently uses a formula that limits the number of retail permits to half of the number of package store licenses.

But other councilors and Planning Board members set aside Buddington's concerns as extraneous to Monday's public hearing.

"I thought we were on the path to wrapping this up after five months of working on this a great deal of thought and comment was put into the ordinances as it stands and this was only some minor clarifications made by the BRPC," said Councilor Jason LaForest.

Planning Board member Lisa Blackmer said every time the city wants to tweak an ordinance for a specific reason, it shouldn't mean opening up the whole topic for discussion.

Digging into the issue would take additional time, Planning Board member Kyle Hanlon noted.

"What you're looking for is going to pretty much kick this back two or three meetings," he said.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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