Published in the February 23, 2017 edition

NORTH READING – The Community Planning Commission will likely wait until the March 13 special town meeting to provide its recommendations on a warrant article seeking to ban recreational marijuana businesses in town.

That said, the Board of Selectmen does expect to support the proposed ban on recreational marijuana businesses, which would come in the form of a zoning bylaw. Selectman Mike Prisco told CPC members that fellow selectmen had been “pretty clear across the board” in opposing recreational marijuana establishments, adding that the town had voted against that provision back in November.

When voters do take up the recreational marijuana warrant article, it will not be related in any way to the separate issue of medical marijuana, which selectmen also spent much of the past month discussing with a nonprofit that unsuccessfully sought to open a dispensary in town.

Prisco added that the town should take advantage of the fact that the legislature is still working out numerous issues on recreational marijuana, and act to ban such businesses in town now. He added that the board of selectmen had also discussed a moratorium in the past.

CPC Chair Warren Pearce said that the town could also do a one-year moratorium on recreational marijuana sales. Pearce said he was bothered that the state would still be working for some time on multiple aspects of marijuana laws. He added that a moratorium on medical marijuana had gone “beautifully” in that it provided the town with time it needed to devise bylaws in accordance with state law.

Along with the upcoming warrant article on recreational marijuana, the town also needs to put the question before voters in the election to be held later this spring.

The special town meeting is Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at the high school performing arts center.