LUDLOW – Following a public hearing, the Planning Board Thursday night approved a proposed amendment to the zoning bylaws permitting a medical marijuana treatment center/dispensary in the town.
The Planning Board voted 5 to 0 to recommend the bylaw amendment for approval by voters at the May 12 annual town meeting.
The town had approved a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities which will expire on May 14. Town Planner Douglas Stefancik said the purpose of the moratorium was to give the community time to develop a regulation permitting the facilities.
According to the proposed amendment to the zoning bylaws, a medical marijuana treatment center/dispensary would be allowed in Ludlow following site plan approval and a special permit from the Planning Board. A facility would be allowed in Industrial A and Industrial C districts.
Police Chief Paul Madera, who helped design Ludlow’s proposed bylaw, said at the hearing that marijuana remains a federally regulated narcotic.
The dispensary would be for patients with a doctor’s prescription and would not need to be located in a commercial area on a main street in town, Madera said.
He said a high level of security would be required at the facility.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has awarded 20 licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries, including two in Western Massachusetts – in Holyoke and Northampton. The state was allowed to issue up to 35 medical marijuana licenses across the state in the first year. Each county must have at least one dispensary, but not more than five.
Planning Board member Raymond Phoenix said, “Ludlow has nice industrial areas.” He said a medical marijuana dispensary “does not need to be on Main Street.”
Madera said hours of operation for such a facility could be determined when a special permit is issued by the Planning Board.
The security codes and fire safety for such a facility also would be determined when a special permit is approved, Madera said.
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