Town of Westborough Approves MMJ Zoning Bylaw

Westborough, Massachusetts–A Medical Marijuana zoning proposal was approved by voters at Town Meeting on March 16, 2013.

The vote was 97-34 in favor of the zoning bylaw.

The votes in favor of the zoning article, include those of many citizens who by their own admission also voted in favor of Question 3 last November.

These voters profess compassion for the profoundly ill, and remain in favor of the intent of the law as adopted by the passage of Question 3, that is: safe access to marijuana-derived medicine for relief of pain and symptoms associated with profound illness.

They were also generally not aware of the poorly drafted law that accompanied Question 3 that facilitates this access without reasonable safeguards of broader public health and safety.

Westborough’s bylaw permits marijuana-related uses by special permit issued by the planning board.

The land uses are “Marijuana Treatment Centers and Dispensaries” and “Marijuana Cultivation”.

The zone in which these land uses are permitted is the Town’s existing Adult Entertainment (AE) zone.

The next step is to submit the bylaw for review by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.

In consideration of this bylaw, the planning board acted on the advice of the Massachusetts Municipal Association which has urged municipalities to develop local zoning for these new land uses created by the passage of Question 3 last November.

The planning board acted with the “Precautionary Principle” as guidance.

The Precautionary Principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when investigation has found a plausible risk.

In the case of marijuana related uses, this would mean to manage the uses in such a way as to minimize potential detrimental effects.

The position of Westborough’s as well as many of the state’s police chiefs, as covered in in this Worcester Telegram article, provided one of many justifications of plausible risk.

If in the future it is confirmed by a preponderance of evidence that the Town’s concerns were unfounded, the planning board, at that point, could revisit the position in consideration of relaxing it.