The Town of Warwick is poised to authorize state licensed and regulated retail marijuana dispensaries within its borders but only in narrowly defined commercial areas.
However, the town is reluctant to permit marijuana consumption sites such as lounges or bars and plans to opt out of the new state law that permits them – at least for the moment.
The town scheduled an Aug. 19 public hearing on dispensary and consumption site local laws and a third measure that will prohibit tobacco, alcohol and cannabis consumption on public lands. No one appeared, but the town agreed to accept public comment for ten days. The board expects to act at its 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9 meeting.
For the sake of public safety, Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said the town wanted to avoid the sale of possibly adulterated marijuana on street corners.
It plans to create a “cannabis zoning overlay district,” covering areas where Price Copper and ShopRite, doctors’ practices and other offices are located.
It envisions dispensaries as akin to pharmacies offering thoroughly tested products.
Dispensaries will be required to apply for a special use permit from the Planning Board, which could be transferred only with the permission of that board
. Their operating hours would be confined to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
A dispensary would not be allowed to operate within 1,500 feet of any other dispensary
Sweeton said consumption sites are “a little bit more problematic” than dispensaries because the state has not written the regulations under which they will operate. The town could reconsider its initial skepticism but wants to see how the regulations work first.
Village of Warwick
The Village of Warwick hasn’t scheduled any action on marijuana yet, but “the general sense is we will opt out,” said Mayor Michael Newhard. He said that the community’s close quarters are not conducive to marijuana businesses. “We’re all cheek by jowl,” he said.
The Village of Greenwood Lake has passed a law banning the consumption of alcohol or the smoking of marijuana in public places. It will turn to consideration of the opt out laws in September.
The Village of Florida has scheduled a hearing for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 to solicit public view on laws to opt out of marijuana establishments.
See related story on page 8.