, Gloucester, MA

October 1, 2013

Editorial: Essex on right path to med pot bylaw

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — It may not be an issue many area residents and officials want to tackle.

Yet officials in the town of Essex are absolutely on the right track in discussing a bylaw that would aim to identify where a potential medical marijuana dispensary might be placed within the town, and — perhaps more importantly — steering it toward a vote at a special Town Meeting being planned for November.

For while there’s no indication that any of the applicants seeking permits for such dispensaries have their eyes on Essex, or any other specific Cape Ann communities, the reality is that each Massachusetts county will be required to have at least one such dispensary, and could have up to five, according to the state law as overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall.

That means that any community can easily face such a decision at any time, and it’s good to see Essex officials move forward on a fairly accelerated pace.

Many cities and towns, of course, would rather not open their doors to such a dispensary at all. And, understandably, Essex officials’ first step was aimed at installing a one-year moratorium on any such a proposal. But that’s not practical, given that the state Board of Health has already accepted applications. And communities that have tried to essentially ban any such businesses from their communities — like Peabody — have been struck down from doing so.

To that end, the trick is to find areas in a given community where medical pot dispensaries can safely be placed. And it’s good to see Essex recognize that.

Other communities should accelerate their medical pot zoning plans as well.