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September 30, 2013

Essex eyes med pot dispensary rules

ESSEX — Town officials are working on permit language geared toward placing a potential medical marijuana dispensary in Essex, and such a proposal could go before the town’s voters at a Special Town Meeting set for November.

The selectmen formally opened the Special Town Meeting warrant last week, and the to-do list targeted for the Nov. 18 meeting is already beginning to fill up.

During a board meeting last week, officials discussed revisiting a federal channel encroachment study, which was shot down by voters at a Town Meeting earlier this year, and money for design plans and construction for northern Conomo Point.

“I think we have to keep pushing forward to improve public access,” Selectman Lisa O’Donnell said of the Conomo Point funds.

Selectman Susan Coviello said the item is a particularly important one and added that she is not comfortable with it appearing in November, but officials agreed to keep it at least on the draft warrant for now.

Officials also discussed the option of enrolling the town in the Northeast Mosquito Control District, an issue that may come before voters in November, as well.

On the medical marijuana front, selectmen had approached the Planning Board earlier this month in hopes of agreeing upon a one-year medical marijuana facility moratorium. But communities who have sought to block any such dispensaries or even delay applications for such a facility have been shot down by the state.

Under the medical marijuana referendum that gained sweeping approval across the state last November —including from voters in Essex — up to 35 such dispensaries are due to be approved across the state, with no more than five, but at least one, mandated for each county.

In that vein, the selectmen and Planning Board are working on language regarding a special permit process allowing one in Essex, and Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki said the language is being discussed with an eye toward bringing the permit issue before voters in November.

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