Does Dracut need a special counsel for cannabis projects?


DRACUT — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday will vote whether or not to authorize Town Manager Jim Duggan to hire special town counsel for potential cannabis projects.

The vote follows a discussion held between officials a few weeks ago on marijuana laws. A bylaw is currently being drafted on the subject for consideration at June’s Town Meeting.

Citing July 1 as the date during which adult-use cannabis retail sales in Massachusetts will become legal, Duggan told officials he felt it was in the best interest to understand the town’s direction.

“We do have maybe some recommendations in the event if we adopt it and accept it, considering that we did have… Dracut did accept to legalize marijuana back when it was on the ballot,” Duggan said during the March 27 BOS meeting.

Duggan also brought up the attempted retail marijuana moratorium that Town Meeting rejected last fall. The article, which was opposed by 102 residents, looked to implement a temporary moratorium on retail marijuana sales in town. In favor were 92 residents. According to the warrant, the moratorium would have included dispensing, processing, and cultivation activities and other related activities to the sale, storage and distribution or marijuana for non-medical use and the operation of a marijuana establishment for non-medical use.

“I will tell you, if nothing is done, July 1 — it’s good to go,” Duggan said at the March 27 meeting of cannabis retail sales being allowed around town, in any location. “If the board opts to say ‘We will not do anything with retail in the community,’ then it has to go to the ballot in November in order for a formal vote by the residents of Dracut. However, we will recommend that we could limit it to either a B-4 zone or an I-1 — an industrial zone — for the retail establishments and incorporate that into proposed bylaws as we move forward.”

Selectman Joseph DiRocco Jr. foresaw problems. “Although they voted for it, they don’t want it in their area,” he said. “You’re going to run into that problem.”

Selectman Tami Dristiliaris said “I personally cannot wrap my head around this issue.”

“I know I’m in the minority but, as a nurse for years seeing the drug problem that we have, I think it’s just such a bad idea,” she said. “I’m just going to say that for the record. Having retail cannabis is a bad idea.”

Jesse Forcier, who spoke up during last fall’s Town Meeting in opposition of the moratorium, stressed again his belief that this an economic opportunity for Dracut.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.