The Wayland Planning Board deferred taking a vote on recommending a proposed amendment to Wayland's zoning bylaw that would address medical marijuana treatment centers in town.
Instead of making a decision Tuesday, the board decided to leave the conversation open, with a placeholder article in the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, pending some additional guidance on the issue from the attorney general's office.
The bylaw change that the Planning Board is considering would both define "medical marijuana treatment center" and restrict those centers to either the municipal services overlay district, the 7.5 to 8 acres on Route 20 at the site of the old septage facility, or the town's only parcel of land zoned light manufacturing, which is a strip located directly west of Wayland Depot and behind Wayland Power.
Planning Board Chairman Kent Greenawalt said the discussion was designed to prepare the town for a response should one become necessary.
In an email opinion, Town Counsel Mark Lanza explained that medical marijuana dispensaries are not addressed as a principal use anywhere in Wayland's zoning bylaw and would therefore not be permitted under the current bylaw. Additionally, Lanza wrote, there is no precedent for them to be associated with an existing principal use, so they would likely not be considered permissible as an accessory use either.
A concern, however, is that prohibiting medical marijuana treatment centers everywhere within a municipality may not be defensible. With that in mind, the proposed zoning bylaw amendment does set aside a place where they are legal, even if the location isn't particularly desirable from a business owner's standpoint, Greenawalt explained.
"There’s much uncertainty about how this will play out in Massachusetts," said Heidi Heilman, a Wayland resident who has studied the issue extensively as part of her efforts to defeat the legislation and now influence its implementation. "One of the options that Wayland could do is put a moratorium on a bylaw on any sort of dispensary coming in until regulations are fully in place."
Heilman told board members that there are numerous discussions currently taking place on the state level regarding how to implement the medical marijuana law that went into effect on Jan. 1.
A Weston resident attending the meeting spoke up to say that he found it unlikely that one of the 35 centers allowed by the law would be constructed in Wayland, so the Planning Board's discussion could be premature.
The board unanimously voted to keep the placeholder article in place for now, hoping more guidance from the state becomes available before Town Meeting. The public hearing was continued to February.