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Selectboard rejects marijuana dispensaries

ROCKINGHAM—The Rockingham Selectboard has passed an ordinance prohibiting the establishment of marijuana dispensaries.

Josh Hearne, in casting the lone dissenting vote, said it was his understanding that such dispensaries were highly controlled “and should be treated as any other business coming to town.”

Under Vermont’s 2004 medical marijuana law, patients or their caregivers can grow up to three cannabis plants and possess up to two ounces of marijuana. In 2011, the medical marijuana program was expanded to allow four dispensaries to operate in Vermont.

BF Trustee Andrew Smith said it was his impression that if a permit is issued to an applicant, then that permit remains with the property and not the applicant. Health Officer Ellen Howard agreed that this was true.

Police Chief Ron Lake spoke in favor of the ordinance, saying he did not want a marijuana dispensary operating in the community.

Village resident Mary Barber noted that the BFPD continues to counter drug abuse issues within the Village, and said she felt that allowing a dispensary would only add to their burden.

It was the consensus of the BF Board of Trustees that a town ordinance would suffice.

The penalties for violation of the ordinance are civil, carrying an $800 fine and $200 waiver fee, with each violation considered a separate incident. The ordinance goes into effect 60 days after the Oct. 3 vote approving it.

Language in the ordinance says that the adoption of the ordinance may be disapproved by a vote of a majority of the qualified voters of the Town voting at an annual or special meeting duly warned for the purpose, pursuant to a petition for a vote on the question of approving the adoption.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #224 (Wednesday, October 9, 2013).

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