Edgartown voters to decide medical marijuana moratorium

— File photo by Ralph Stewart

Edgartown voters will decide at a special town meeting whether or not to declare a one-year moratorium on any medical marijuana dispensaries or cultivation facilities. The meeting will be scheduled just before the annual town meeting in April.

They will also decide whether to ban consumption of medical marijuana in public. Selectmen approved the wording of the two town meeting articles at their Tuesday meeting.

“Most of the towns are going with a moratorium for now,” town administrator Pam Dolby said.

The new medical marijuana law gives the Massachusetts Department of Public Health until April 1 to formulate regulations to govern who can use, sell, or grow medical marijuana, but the state is not expected to make that deadline.

“We don’t have any idea what the state is going to do,” Ms. Dolby said.

The moratorium would come in the form of a zoning bylaw, “to establish a temporary restriction in order to allow the town adequate time to consider whether to allow facilities associated with the use of medical marijuana.”

The proposed public consumption bylaw would ban use of medical marijuana in any form, in any public place, including streets, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, beaches, and public buildings.

Police are charged with enforcing the bylaw. Violations would be punishable by a $300 fine for each offense.

Voters statewide approved the use of medical marijuana in a ballot referendum. The law took effect January 1.

Also Tuesday, selectmen approved a new process for offering the Warren House for public sale. No bidders made offers on the North Water Street property last fall, in response to a request for proposals (RFP) that incorporated strict state procurement rules that govern disposal of surplus property. In the revised RFP, there is no minimum bid set, and brokers can receive a 3 percent commission on a sale. Selectmen reserved the right to reject any bid.

“The minute you say 3 percent, word will get around,” said selectman Art Smadbeck, who is a real estate broker.

The town will advertise in newspapers and the state’s central register, and it will accept bids until June 3.

Voters approved the purchase of the historic structure in 2005 for $3.5 million, as part of a plan to expand the town library. It proved unsuitable for that use, and has sat vacant and deteriorating since.

In other action, town counsel Ron Rappaport advised the board that his preliminary research indicates the town cannot use a “betterment” process to help Chappaquiddick residents finance the initial capital cost of cable television access. The pending agreement with Comcast would require 270 Chappaquiddick customers to commit to two years of cable service, and pay a $2,139 fee to pay for building the cable infrastructure.

Residents asked the town to come up with a creative way to finance the initial cost.