Sheffield approves marijuana regulations that include shop limits

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SHEFFIELD — The town now has its first set of marijuana regulations that include limiting the number of retail shops to three.

Voters at Monday's annual town meeting approved a comprehensive marijuana bylaw that will regulate everything from retail sales to cultivation. Also, voters approved a 3 percent local tax on recreational marijuana products and a 0.75 percent local meals tax.

The town's $10.5 million operating budget for 2020 also was approved. It includes $6.89 million in spending for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District.

The capital budget of $302,550 also passed muster with voters, as did a new way of assessing the five towns in the school district for costs.

Town Clerk Felecie Joyce said that turnout was low — 220 out of 2,363 voters attended the roughly two-hour meeting at Mount Everett Regional High School.

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Right now, two retail marijuana shops already are in the state and local licensing pipeline, according to Select Board member Nadine Hawver. Unless something changes, this currently leaves room for one more license under the newly set limit of three.

The new rules for legal marijuana also include details for processing and cultivation. This includes, for instance, ventilation that keeps odors, pesticides and other chemicals from wafting outside.

And, a new way of assessing school costs could hit the books.

If approved by all five towns in the school district, the new method proposed originally by New Marlborough officials would level out wild swings in costs from year to year. It would take effect in 2021, using a rolling average that would consider costs from the current year and the four previous years. Officials say the switch would help towns have more predictable budgets.

And voters this time around passed on an article proposing a 6 percent local rooms tax for all types of lodging. This will give officials time for a more comprehensive bylaw that will include considerations for short-term rentals through online and local hosting platforms.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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