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Health Board to Discuss Medical Marijuana

The issue is on Tuesday night's agenda.

Health Board to Discuss Medical Marijuana

The Westborough Board of Health this week will discuss the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the latest discussion in town of this topic.

The health board’s discussion is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. Tuesday in the Forbes Municipal Building.

This past week, the board of selectmen and the school committee both discussed the planning board’s proposed zoning bylaw that would ban marijuana dispensaries and personal cultivation. Additional language would allow these uses in a new overlay district in Westborough's adult entertainment district, by special permit, if the court rules the ban illegal.

The school committee this past week unanimously voted to support the proposal at the March 16 annual town meeting.

The proposal is the Westborough planning board's response to Massachusetts' new medical marijuana law, which took effect Jan. 1. Voters approved the new law at the Nov. 6 statewide election. Westborough residents supported the measure, Question 3 on the ballot, 5,367 to 3,347.

The law allows the state Department of Public Health to authorize “no more than 35 treatment centers” in 2013, according to the ballot question. However, the state agency is "not likely to meet" the 120-day deadline in the law to define the law, planning board Chairman Lester Hensley has said.

Hensley told selectmen this past week that the planning board “essentially did not hear much” in terms of suggested changes during its Feb. 5 public hearing.

“I think there was general consent that the planning board had approached this job with some thoroughness and a lot of effort,” he said.

“We got out in front of the issue. We took it seriously that the planning board’s role is to plan and not to react.”

However, “I believe that in one respect, the planning board has made a miscalculation,” Hensley said.

During a presentation on the zoning proposal to the advisory finance committee last week, “it was the decision of a member of the finance committee to in some sense mock that process by putting out on the table as they gave us their feedback a plate full of brownies,” he said.

“What we’re facing with our youth is a very serious issue,” Hensley said. 

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