CLARENDON — The town is researching an ordinance that would ban commercial marijuana sales, should the Legislature ever legalize a regulated marijuana market.
“As commercialization of marijuana goes to our Legislature, the day is probably going to come — I hope it doesn’t — but it’s probably going to come where folks will, they’re going to (open) marijuana stores, pot shops, whatever the hell you want to call them, and start selling it to people,” said resident Art Peterson at a Select Board meeting Monday. “And I strongly feel we should have an ordinance in town to ban those types of places, as we’ve talked before.”
The board ultimately voted 3-0, with two members absent, to authorize Peterson to head a three-person committee that would research and draft an ordinance banning the commercial sale of marijuana in Clarendon.
“I do have some people in mind,” Peterson said in a phone interview Friday, though he said he hasn’t approached any of them yet.
Part of what Peterson has been tasked with doing is finding out what other towns in the state have created marijuana ordinances and use that research to inform a draft ordinance for the Clarendon Select Board to consider. He said so far he’s aware of marijuana ordinances in Dover and Newport.
Dover has banned medical marijuana dispensaries, while Newport has banned marijuana sales and the opening of dispensaries.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use has been legalized statewide, as has growing small numbers of plants in one’s home. However, it’s not legal to sell outside a medical dispensary. This year, bills have been introduced in the Legislature that would create a commercial marijuana market.
Talk of regulating marijuana sales in Clarendon has come up before the Select Board and the Planning Commission. Those bodies concluded at the time that there was little use in drafting an ordinance when the Legislature hasn’t moved on the issue.
“What we had talked about here in the last meeting, and a couple meetings since then, was to possibly form a subcommittee. It’s just advisory,” Select Board Chairman Michael Klopchin said during Monday’s meeting.
The board was asked by those in the audience why it can’t simply ban marijuana sales if it so desires.
Klopchin said for the town to establish an ordinance that can survive legal challenges, it needs to follow a certain process. In this case, the subcommittee will look at what other towns have done and bring something for the board to review.
“I’m going to be honest with you, in the last 5 years especially, some of this stuff sneaks by you,” Klopchin said. “You don’t even know it until you have to deal with the stuff. What the hell has been created by this state? I’ve learned, and I’m sure other board members can speak to this, the last couple years especially, to get your ducks in a row first, so that when we do something, somebody from the state can’t come and challenge it.”
“There’s a few that have done it now,” said Selectman Robert Congdon Jr. “And I imagine most of the language in them is probably similar.”