2017-12-14 / News

Marijuana public hearing postponed

Because of a problem with the agenda posted on the secretary of state’s website, the effort to prohibit commercial marijuana in Jamestown was postponed until January.

The town councilors’ discussion on the topic Monday night, however, did yield a change. The council directed the legal team to amend language concerning coops, which were barred in the initial proposal. The amendment was made because these co-ops aren’t considered commercial ventures; they are simply a group of patients and caregivers who grow marijuana together. Their product, however, only can be used by patients specifically tagged to the individual plants. Conversely, commercial growers are allowed to sell their marijuana to compassion centers for profit, which is then sold to medical marijuana patients.

The amendment was influenced by a letter sent to Town Planner Lisa Bryer from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This proposal would restrict any growing of medical marijuana in the town in any context except for residential grows by a medical marijuana patient,” Steven Brown, ACLU executive director, wrote in a Dec. 8 letter. “It would bar patients from growing medical marijuana outside their residence, ban caregivers from growing any medical marijuana for patients, and would also completely prohibit residential co-ops, non-residential co-ops, compassion centers and cultivators. However, these limitations go far beyond the criteria contained in the Medical Marijuana Act.”

While co-ops will now be allowed in the proposed ordinance, Police Chief Ed Mello said the market for them is diminishing because of a state law that was changed. They are no longer allowed to sell their surplus marijuana to compassion centers.

“I don’t think there’s an appetite for them anymore,” Mello said.

With this change, co-ops will be allowed to grow 24 plants in a residentially licensed site and 48 plants in commercial zones.

This measure does not affect medical marijuana patients or their caregivers who are licensed through the state Department of Health.

The public hearing was postponed to Jan. 2. Bryer and the planning commissioners, following five meetings, are recommending the prohibition of commercial marijuana in every district throughout town, including growing, processing, cultivating, testing and selling the drug. Bryer said the board decided on the ban because of the community’s rural character and its small commercial district lined with residential neighborhoods.

“I don’t want anyone to think that this was taken lightly,” she said.

— Tim Riel

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