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Towns go slow on pot, with Arlington's move among the symbolic

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UPDATED, July 12: Another 47 municipalities are actively considering restrictions, the review found, as local elected officials express unease about the state's venture into legalized recreational marijuana.

Most of the restrictions are temporary, intended to allow local officials time to consider where marijuana shops should be allowed to operate in their communities. In many cases, including Arlington, the moratoriums appear to be purely symbolic, as they expire around the time pot businesses can finally apply for licenses in April.

"We didn't necessarily buy ourselves much more time than the state regulations allow anyway, but it sent a clear policy message," The Globe quoted Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine.

In April, Town Meeting members voted to support a moratorium on recreational pot operations until next June, or until the municipality enacts marijuana bylaws. "We wanted every resident to know that we will have a planning process and public discussion about whether or not to have recreational facilities in town," the manager told The Globe.

About 56 percent of Arlington voters supported Question 4. Chapdelaine acknowledged the moratorium appeared to be at odds with residents' votes, and that public awareness of the freeze wasn't widespread.

But he recalled that in 2012, an overwhelming majority of Arlington voters supported legalizing medical marijuana. Still, The Globe reported, stiff resistance remained when a dispensary sought to open in town.

That dispensary got Redevelopment Board approval last November. The Board of Health supported it in June.

"We found ourselves facing some extremely angry residents," Chapdelaine told The Globe. "Even though people in Arlington voted for it as a policy for the state, it wasn't clear to them that they wanted one in Arlington."

A review of meetings about the dispensary covered by YourArlington reflected some strong opposition, particularly from a few, but, based on public comments, no general anger.

The Globe report continues, providing statewide perspective, including this -- residents of 29 municipalities have voted to bar all types of recreational cannabis businesses.

For example, the largest gap between a town's policy and its voters' choice on Question 4 appears to be in the tiny hamlet of Egremont, on the New York border.

There, 64 percent of 845 total voters backed Question 4. But Town Meeting members nonetheless blocked marijuana businesses until February 2019 at the earliest. The moratorium was pushed by the three-member Egremont planning board, whose hearing on the subject was attended only by a local reporter and no residents. Officials in Egremont did not return calls seeking comment.

For the full story, click here >>

Cambridge Day, Feb. 17: Medical marijuana dispensary opens soon, welcoming patients after a ‘tough’ process
Globe, March 9: Harvard Square medical marijuana dispensary gets closer to reality
Globe, March 7: If Trump cracks down on pot, where does that leave Mass.?
Nov. 8, 2016: Redevelopment Board approves medical-marijuana dispensary

This news summary was published Saturday, July 8, 2017, and update July 12, to add Board of Health decision.

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