WAREHAM — A Special Town Meeting Monday approved controls on where retail marijuana facilities may locate in town, how much of a tax they will pay, and a limit on how many may set up shop here.
Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum explained before the votes that rejecting these new and revised town regulations would leave Wareham with no control over marijuana sales establishments when the state begins granting them licenses next month.
"If we fail to pass this," Teitelbaum said, "as of April 1 anyone can apply for a license and conduct their trade in any part of town."
The argument led the sparsely populated meeting in the Wareham High School auditorium to pass two warrant articles that restrict the number of pot sales establishments in town to three, limit them to Institutional and Industrial zones and the strip commercial district east of Glen Charlie Road, Depot Street and Great Neck Road by special permit, and impose a 3 percent tax on their revenues. The bylaw revisions also limit medical marijuana facilities to institutional zones, which are regulated separately.
The longest debate came from a failed attempt to delete the Institutional zone from allowable locations. Resident Jim Moniz proposed the amendment, saying "I have nothing against this bylaw. But I don't believe they belong in an Institutional district."
Teitelbaum said the town already has a host agreement with the first medical marijuana facility coming to town, where it is opening up shop within the Institutional district that includes Tobey Hospital. That company will have the right, he said, and, in fact, is interested in, also seeking a retail marijuana sales establishment license for that location. The strongest control the town will have over these businesses, he said, is negotiating the terms of host agreements.
Selectman Alan Slavin said the state approves these retail licenses, not the town, and the commonwealth gives medical pot facilities preference to also receive a retailer’s permit. "But they will not necessarily get it," he said.
Teitelbaum added the Wareham facility will house both the retail marijuana sales and medical pot treatment facilities in the same building, divided by a wall and run by separate staff because of differing regulations.
Town Planner Kennneth Buckland said the town's proposed regulation that retail marijuana facilities be 1,500 feet from each other, in itself, will limit the number of such businesses in a town's particular zone. The Institutional zone that includes Tobey Hospital is near a school zone, he said, but is a legally allowed buffer zone away from school children.
The amendment failed to pass. The general article revising town zoning bylaws for marijuana retail businesses passed by unanimous vote.