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November 27, 2012

City, towns talk pot dispensaries

GLOUCESTER — With medicinal marijuana dispensaries a wave of the near future around Massachusetts, a number of Cape Ann officials are discussing how to place or handle such facilities, with an eye toward getting plans in place before their options go up in smoke.

In Manchester, Town Administrator Wayne Melville said the discussion about medicinal marijuana has not come up yet. But with Melville stepping down from his full-time position on Jan. 4 of next year, he said the town will have to start paying more attention to it in the future.

The same can be said for Rockport, as Erin Battistelli, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, acknowledged the issue must be addressed sooner rather than later.

“We (the board) have only met once since election, we have a huge to do list, but it is certainly something that needs to be addressed,” she said.

As approved by voters, the law calls for 35 medical marijuana “dispensaries” across the state, with at least one, but no more than five in each county. State lawmakers, however, have said some aspects of the law will need revision before taking effect, though no one has specified whether the dispensary mandates are among them.

Battistelli said she is in favor of a medicinal marijuana dispensary within the Cape Ann community, adding that the more potential and accessible dispensaries, the better. She added it could be harder for elderly or terminally residents to travel away from Cape Ann to get medicinal marijuana, and said that Cape Ann’s communities should coordinate and work together, as a dispensary could affect surrounding towns, as well.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said Tuesday that city officials have started to talk about the idea of a dispensary in the city. While it has been nothing formal, Campanello said he has been meeting with city staff members about dispensary restrictions and zoning, should there be one.

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