December 6 2016

Planning Board Discusses Proposed Moratorium on Recreational Marijuana Sales

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Planning Board discussed the language of a proposed warrant article for Town Meeting concerning a moratorium of sales on recreational marijuana in town.


The warrant article was drafted at the behest of the Board of Selectmen who voted to place it on the January Town Meeting warrant after voters in the state passed Question 4, which made the possession and sale of marijuana legal for people over the age of 21.


Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heureux said the only change the board was suggesting was to add “and vehicles” to a list of possible places sellers might use to ensure against mobile “food truck like” sales.


L’Heureux said the article is seeking an 18-month moratorium or one that last six months past when the state sets its guidelines, whichever is later. The state’s deadline to set guidelines is January, 2018. She said this would give the town time to pass bylaws regulating where marijuana can be sold in town and is what the town did after medical marijuana was legalized.


There was also some talk about whether six months after the state set its guidelines was enough time to properly create and pass a bylaw.


“I was wondering that and I’m open to changing it to nine months if that’s the will of the board,” L’Heureux said.


Finally, the board also discussed the possibility of the town’s voters passing a referendum that would prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana in Burlington altogether. L’Heureux said the law was written in a way that allowed that and, unlike with medicinal marijuana, more Burlington residents voted against the ballot measure than for it. In town 6,253 residents voted “yes” while 7,615 said “no” to legalizing recreational marijuana.


“Burlington voted 55 percent against this,” she said but said the town should also seek the moratorium in the meantime. “It seems reasonable to bring forward a referendum vote but think both these things have to be done in tandem.”

In the end the board seemed to be leaning towards extending the proposed moratorium to nine months but voted to continue the hearing until its next meeting on January 5 to give residents an opportunity to add their input.

The January Town Meeting will be held on Monday, January 23.


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