CCC releases "Guidance for Municipalities"

In recent days the CCC has promulgated a document titled "Guidance for Municipalities Regarding Marijuana for Adult Use."   It is mostly a repeat of the statute and draft regs, but aimed at the municipal audience and worth a close read by prospective applicants. 

"During the application process," the Guidance instructs, "applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have held a community outreach meeting within the past six months, that they have executed a Host Community Agreement with the municipality and that their proposed location is compliant with zoning bylaws or ordinances at the time of the application."

"During the application process" appears to be at odds with the draft regs, which say that documentation verifying the "community outreach meeting" is to be filed as part of the application itself, i.e., upon commencement of the application process, not "during." 

Similarly, the application will require "[d]ocumentation in the form of a single-page certification signed by the contracting authorities for the municipality and the applicant evidencing that that applicant for licensure and host municipality ... have executed a host a community agreement."

As for documentation of compliance, this demand could be a serious problem for some applicants, especially where a city or town has adopted no special marijuana-related bylaws and the applicant's proposed operation is allowable as a matter of right without special zoning approval (for example, a retail shop in a retail zone, or a cultivation operation in an agricultural zone).  With no local laws prohibiting, curbing, or otherwise governing marijuana operations, what municipal official can be expected to certify that such an operation is in compliance with local law, even though it is entirely?  

The CCC has gone overboard with requiring a town official to certify that a proposed use, not yet constructed, compies with local zoning laws. The statute clearly imposes on the municipality the obligation to notify the CCC--and thus thwart an application--if the applicant's proposal does not comply with local zoning. That is reasonable. The draft regs, however, turn that around, and impose on the applicant the burden to find someone in city hall to certify that his proposal does comply with local law.  Good luck finding someone.

Bottom line:  Under the draft regs, before an application is delivered to the CCC, the applicant must have satisfied these three requirements: the Community Outreach Meeting, the Host Agreement, and “certification from the municipality in which the Marijuana Establishment will be located” that the licensed operation complies with local zoning.  Hopefully, they will receive much scrutiny during the public comment period next month, and the final regs, to be issued by March 15, will revise them substantially.