The state then began accepting applications from people interested in opening clinics, placing a limit of 35 in Massachusetts, with five in each county.
Earlier in the year, a businessman from Newburyport met with a number of local officials and expressed interest in placing a medical marijuana clinic in Andover. At the moment, however, he has focused his attention on other communities, including Salem.
But Materazzo said things could change and someone could end up applying for a clinic in Andover.
Under state guidelines written by the Department of Public Health, the so-called registered marijuana dispensaries are defined as “not-for-profit entities that acquire, cultivate, possess, process, transfer, transport, sell, distribute, dispense or administer marijuana and products containing marijuana and related supplies to registered, qualified patients or their personal caregivers,” Materazzo said.
The purpose of the overlay district would be to provide for the placement of the dispensaries “in locations suitable for lawful medical marijuana facilities and to minimize adverse impacts ... on adjacent properties, residential neighborhoods, historic districts, schools, playgrounds and other locations where minors congregate by regulating (their) siting, design, placement, security and removal.”
Selectman Paul Salafia wanted to know if someone could start growing marijuana, and Materazzo said that under the law, cultivation is allowed. In fact, he said, “we don’t have control over agriculturally exempt properties. Any existing agricultural use can choose to go that way if they have an exemption. They have to grow it indoors and it would be a highly regulated facility.”
A zoning bylaw governing dispensaries would need approval from Town Meeting. Officials are planning on placing a bylaw proposal on the May 2014 Town Meeting warrant.
Selectman Mary Lyman suggested the Board of Selectmen hold a joint public hearing with the Planning Board in the coming weeks to get input from police, health workers and others on the wording of the proposed bylaw. A date for that hearing has not yet been set.