UPDATE: November 16, 2017: Updates include addition of the excellent opt-out language passed by Longmeadow; and a link to a video of testimony to Bridgewater Town Council: “Commercial Marijuana Opt Out | What Every Elected Official Should Consider”
* UPDATE: October 31, 2017
Having received an interpretation from Beacon Hill we have updated this post to once again advise that both a General Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw with identical language be voted on by your community’s legislative body. Nowhere in the recreational marijuana law does it explicitly require a Zoning Bylaw as the confirming action of a local legislative body. Therefore a General Bylaw, only requiring a simple majority vote (51%) is believed to be sufficient to confirm a community’s desire to Opt-Out or ban recreational marijuana establishments. Zoning Bylaws require a super majority (2/3 affirmative) vote to pass. It is recommended, out of an abundance of caution, that your community in addition to voting a General Bylaw vote on a Zoning Bylaw (after voting on the General Bylaw). Regardless of the outcome of the vote on the Zoning Bylaw, the General Bylaw is expected to be sufficient to uphold an Opt-Out intention of a community.
UPDATE: October 9, 2017
After the passage of House Bill No. 3818 that became the recreational marijuana law in July 2017, the process for opting out of commercial recreational marijuana activity has changed slightly since Westborough became the first of about 30 communities to do so before this compromise law was signed by Governor Baker. A growing number of more than 100 communities have either Opted-Out or have passed moratoriums on recreational, commercial marijuana establishments citing among their reasons:
- incompatibility with the character of their community
- addiction for profit during a national addiction and overdose epidemic
- impacts of marijuana on brain development
- health and mental health harms of heavy use
- increased availability and reduced perception of harm as a driver of youth and heavy general population use
- increased community costs of enforcement, regulation, and hospitalization
- some revenue is not worth taking
The law applies differently to each community based on whether that community voted in opposition (No On Q4 Community) or support (Yes on Q4 Community) of ballot Question 4 in November 2016.
Here is our understanding now based on information from the Massachusetts Municipal Association: Continue reading Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana — How to “Opt Out” — An Action Plan