LACONIA — The Planning Board and Zoning Task Force will hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to regulate the location of a medical marijuana dispensary on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at City Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to operate Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) in four geographic zones, one of which consists of Belknap, Strafford and Rockingham counties in accordance with a statute authorizing the use of the drug to treat a specified number of medical conditions. Each ATC would be licensed to dispense and cultivate marijuana, as well as process the plant into edible products. With the support of DHHS, legislation (Senate Bill 22) has been introduced that would enable each licensed dispensary, with the approval of the department, to operate one satellite facility, which could only dispense, not cultivate or process, marijuana.
DHHS has issued 70 pages of rules regulating the ownership and operation of the facilities, but where and when such a facility could operate are questions for the city to address.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders has suggested that rather than propose different regulations for dispensing, cultivating and processing, she suggested the same regulation apply to all three. She recommended that ATCs be confined to the Industrial Park, Industrial and Airport Industrial districts and prohibited elsewhere. The Industrial Park District refers to the O'Shea Industrial Park on Lexington Drive. There are three Industrial Districts in downtown, two beyond the south end and another near the north end of Union Avenue. The Airport Industrial District lies east of White Oaks Road and borders the Gilford town line. ATCs would be prohibited in residential districts and within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers and places of worship. The dispensaries would be allowed to operate between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Eric Borrin of DHHS said that the department received 14 applications to operate ATCs before the period for responding to the request for proposals closed at 2 p.m. yesterday. He said that at least one application has been received for each of the four geographic areas, but declined to specify how many applications were submitted for each area. The RFP prescribes that the applications — and the identity of the applicants — will remain confidential until 10 days after the successful applicants have been notified.
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