Madison BOS Reviews Draft, Looks to Convene Marijuana Committee
The Board of Selectmen (BOS) is planning on approving a charge for an ad hoc marijuana legalization advisory committee at its next meeting after reviewing a draft this week, which will aim to adopt recommendations for the town in the face of state-wide legalization of recreational marijuana passed in June.
First discussed by First Selectman Peggy Lyons before the state bill was even officially signed, the process has moved relatively quickly with the town hoping to get ahead of the likely complex and controversial issues around local regulation of cannabis. Lyons cited the incremental nature of the state legislation, which could see licenses issued to sell marijuana as early as this October and full retail sales by the end of 2022 as a reason to begin examining the issues.
The committee will be made up of about 14 members, with representatives from all the major boards and commissions along with town staff and three members of the public. Likely it will be tasked with bringing initial findings to the BOS within four months, and will hold at least one public hearing.
Selectman Bruce Wilson said he hoped the BOS might consider adding someone from a pro-marijuana advocacy group as well, and said he imagined the issue would eventually go to referendum, though for many of the potential policies a referendum would not be required.
According to the bill, municipalities have more than one way to approach either restricting or allowing marijuana sale and use within their borders, including through zoning but potentially using other governmental levers.
According to the draft charge, the committee’s meetings will be public and noticed, with time for public comment. They will focus on recommendations related broadly to regulating sale or use of marijuana in town, but also working more minutely on law enforcement issues or youth prevention programs.
“We’re trying to get some additional guidance,” Lyons said. “The idea [is to have] this be a broad committee with different facets of the community, to have input including members of the public.”