Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

The Licensing Commission has continued a
hearing on special additional rules for marijuana establishments to its March
meeting.

The commission opened the public hearing at
its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17.

While the hearing did not generate much
controversy, commissioners did agree that they wanted more time to consider
several issues, including language limiting where retail marijuana shops can be
concentrated, and the amount the city will charge for application fees.

“I’d like to see more research and see what
nearby cities have done and what their challenges are,” said commission member
Roseann Bongiovanni.

Currently, there are three applications in
the works for retail marijuana shops in the city. The city will allow a maximum
of four retail licenses.

According to the proposed regulation, the
Licensing Commission will not issue a license to anyone who has violated
Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses
are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.

The operating hours for retail shops will be
limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage will have to be approved by the
city, according to City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher.

“We are trying to be a little more
restrictive now so we don’t have to clean up after the fact, like with liquor
licenses,” said Fisher.

The section of the proposed regulations that
garnered the most discussion among commission members was one which would limit
the concentration of where retail marijuana shops can be located.

Fisher noted that the language included in
the draft regulations, limiting retail shops to one per voting district and not
within 500 feet of another retail marijuana store, was not included by the
legal department. She said it was included because it was a request made during
a past public hearing on marijuana regulations.

“We already have a very small area in
Chelsea, and retail shops are already restricted to three zones and can’t be
within 500 feet of schools,” said Fisher. “It is already quite restrictive of
where you can put a facility.”

The city will allow marijuana establishments

in the Industrial, Shopping Center, and Business Highway zone.

Licensing Commission Chairman Mark Rossi
said he’d like the commission to have more discretion over where facilities can
be located.

“Our job is to factor in the input from the
community and the licensees,” said Rossi.

Much like it does with liquor licenses,
Rossi said the Licensing Commission will be getting input from the community,
police and fire departments, and other city officials when it comes to making a
final determination on issuing a marijuana license.

“This committee is uniquely situated to make
that determination,” he said.

Commission member James Guido said he would
like more information on limiting concentration in voting districts before
making a final decision on the proposed regulation.

Rossi also said he had questions about the
$5,000 application and annual renewal fee for marijuana establishments, stating
he would like to see a higher number.

Rossi said the application fees and
concentration of locations will be discussed when the hearing is continued at
its March 7 meeting.

“This is a big issue that affects everyone,”
he said.

•In other business, the Licensing Commission
adjusted its penalty for Rincon Latinos restaurant at 373 Washington Ave. In
December, the commission suspended the restaurant’s liquor license for eight
days spread over four weekends for repeated instances of exceeding its
capacity.

Last week, the commission agreed to suspend
the license for two weekends in January, as well as for a five-day stretch
during the week when a new handicap bathroom will be installed by the
restaurant owners.

The new bathroom will allow Rincons Latinos
to increase its capacity from 17 to 28 people, according to John Dodge, the
attorney representing the owners.

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Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

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