FAQs

I’VE HEARD BROOKLINE IS A “YES” COMMUNITY- WHAT IS A “YES” COMMUNITY, AND HOW DOES LIVING IN A “YES” COMMUNITY IMPACT ME? 

A majority (59.98%) of Brookline residents voted “Yes” to Question 4 during the 2016 election to legalize adult-use Marijuana, making Brookline a “Yes” community. “Yes” communities are required to follow processes in order to limit adult-use Marijuana that are, in some respects, different than “No” communities. “No” communities are where a majority of residents voted “No” to Question 4. Brookline is a “Yes” community.

In a “Yes” community, certain limitations cannot be placed on Marijuana Retailers (businesses that sell Marijuana directly to the consumer) unless they are approved BOTH by Town Meeting AND in a Town-wide referendum.

In preparation for the July 1st deadline, Town Boards, Committees, and Departments worked proactively to introduce a series of Warrant Articles to create a regulatory process for these Establishments, known as Warrant Articles 17-22, approved at the May 2018 Annual Town Meeting. 

WHY DOESN’T THE TOWN IMPOSE A MORATORIUM?

The Town currently has a temporary moratorium that runs until December 31, 2018, or when the Town adopts by-laws in light of the marijuana regulations established by the CCC. The marijuana Warrant Articles would effectively replace the moratorium, once approved by the Attorney General's Office.

WHY DOESN’T THE TOWN EXTEND THE MORATORIUM?

Town Meeting of May 2017 attempted to extend the moratorium, but the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) denied the request. Please visit the "Additional Resources" tab for the official decision by the AGO's office.

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENTS?

The State regulations are extensive and complex, compiled in an 88-page document that governs various use types (grow, sell, etc.). State regulations do not give much local control over Marijuana Establishments, which is why we’ve proposed the regulatory scheme included in Warrant Articles 17-22. You can find a copy of the regulations by the Cannabis Control Commission under the "Additional Resources" tab.

HOW WERE THE BY-LAW DRAFTED?

Feedback and recommendations from various public safety departments, including Police, Fire, and Health, were instrumental in informing all of the proposed warrant articles, which were vetted through the Select Board’s Licensing Review Committee. A combination of public meetings, hearings, surveys, and other tools were utilized to understand the pulse of the community when drafting regulatory proposals. For a complete archive of meeting agendas and minutes, please visit the "Upcoming Meetings" tab.

WHY WERE THERE 6 WARRANT ARTICLES FOR MARIJUANA AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

Each Warrant Article accomplishes a specific goal. A brief summary is included here:

WA 17: Amend the Zoning By-law to add Marijuana regulations (including pertaining to siting and density) and introduces a default cap on the number of Special Permits to be issued to Marijuana Retailers (which sunsets when Article 18 is approved).

WA 18: Accomplishes three things: (1) creates a licensing scheme to allow the Select Board to issue annual licenses and review Marijuana Establishments; (2) sets a cap for the total number of licenses for Marijuana Retailers by type; and (3) regulates Marijuana through the use of our General By-Laws.

WA 19: Allows for a motion at Town Meeting to decrease the number of Select Board licenses (see WA-18) to a number that is 1, 2, or 3.

WA 20: Regulates personal Marijuana use (e.g., no public consumption or cultivation within the public view, no at-home extraction using combustible materials).

WA 21: Assigns enforcement authority for WAs 18 and 20 to specific Departments (in addition to the Police Department, which can enforce any General By-Law).

WA 22: Adopts a sales tax of 3% on Marijuana and Marijuana products, similar to a local meals tax.

WHERE CAN MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENTS LOCATE?

Marijuana Establishments will be subject to several layers of regulations as included by in WA-17. These include distance from schools, distance from one another, limitations on having space in a building with a daycare, store size limitations, and siting in appropriate business districts depending on the type of use.

WHAT DOES A LICENSING SCHEME DO?

A licensing scheme allows the Select Board to issue licenses and review Marijuana Establishments on an annual basis similar to the way we do with alcohol establishments, like restaurants and package stores. This adds local control under the Select Board. A license may also be revoked or not renewed under certain conditions, and requires the Marijuana Establishment to appear before the Select Board on a yearly basis for license renewal.

WHAT IS THE CAP FOR MARIJUANA RETAILERS?

The cap proposed in WA-18 is for a number equal to 20% of package store licenses issued (rounded up) as to each category of Marijuana Retailers, namely, Storefront retailers (“take-out”, which the CCC will begin licensing this summer), Social Consumption retailers (on-site consumption, which the CCC has said it will begin licensing early next year), and Delivery-Only retailers (an Amazon.com-type model, which the CCC has said it will begin licensing early next year). Currently, the Town has 19 package store licenses issued and can issue up to 24 in total. That means, if the cap of 20% is approved, we could issue 4 or 5 licenses for each type of Marijuana Retailers.

Note: The number of package store licenses is decided by the census and based on the Town’s population. This means the number of package store licenses can vary.

WHY SET A CAP OF 20% FOR MARIJUANA RETAILERS?

Setting a cap at 20% allows for the integration of the industry while avoiding a proliferation of these business types so that the Town can better adapt to them and respond with any additional needed regulations over time. By law, the municipality has the authority to establish a cap, and we may increase or decrease the cap of Marijuana licenses accordingly (subject to limitations applicable to “Yes” communities, see above).

WHY CAN’T WE BAN ALL MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENTS?

The articles did not propose a ban given that 60% of Brookline voters voted in favor of Question 4. In addition, the law is gray about whether a community with an existing medical marijuana dispensary can ban its expansion into retail marijuana sales.

CAN PEOPLE CONSUME MARIJUANA IN PUBLIC?

No, the General By-law approved in Article 20 clearly states “no person shall smoke, ingest, consume…Marijuana or Marijuana Products while in or upon any public street, sidewalk… playground…” and other locations. This is consistent with the State law and provides a local by-law enforcement mechanism. 

WILL THIS BAN MY USE OF MARIJUANA IN MY HOME?

No, Article 18 as approved bans the consumption of Marijuana in public places and cultivation of Marijuana and Hemp (which look the same) in public view. In addition, it restricts residential personal manufacture and extraction at home to non-solvent based extraction methods, since methods which use combustible materials can be dangerous. With these exceptions, the proposed Articles are generally aimed to regulate businesses, not residents.

CAN PEOPLE CONSUME MARIJUANA IN RESTAURANTS?

Not with the Warrant Articles proposed and approved at the Annual May 2018 Town Meeting. The CCC will not begin licensing “Social Consumption” Marijuana Retailers (businesses selling marijuana for on-site consumption) until early next year. In addition, under State law, a community must “opt-in” before the CCC will license Social Consumption establishments there, through a Town-wide referendum. The law details the procedures for this. We include this Use by Special Permit now in anticipation of CCC licensing of these establishments beginning in 2019, in order to have measures in place.

CAN AN EXISTING STORE ALSO SELL MARIJUANA?

If an existing store is compliant with all the zoning regulations and able to obtain a license from the Select Board and the CCC, then yes. However, there are additional State laws that regulate how this will look in practice. For example, alcohol and Marijuana cannot be sold together per State laws; Marijuana products must be separated from other non-Marijuana products and not accessible to those under the age of 21; other rules apply.

CAN I JUST WALK IN AND BUY RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA?

Recreational Marijuana will not be available to consumers until July 1, 2018, at the earliest, and not before Retailers have obtained all necessary State and local licenses and permits. The State regulations have requirements for checking ID’s at the door and other measures, which the Town proposals have incorporated.

WILL MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENTS FACILITIES BE SECURE?

Marijuana facilities, regardless of the type of use, are required to be secured by State law. For example, the Marijuana product must be kept separate from consumers and even certain employees in a secure location. To read all the State regulations, please visit the Cannabis Control Commission’s website.

WHAT WILL BE THE TOWN APPLICATION PROCESS TO OBTAIN A LICENSE TO OPEN A MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENT?

All Marijuana Establishments will go through a two-step process with multiple opportunities for public comment.

1) Since WA-18 was approved, the Select Board license application process will follow current practices (similar to that for liquor licenses) to determine whether an applicant should be issued a license.

2) Since WA-17 was approved, as part of the application process for a special permit, the applicant will obtain reports from Fire, Health, and other necessary departments with any specified conditions for that particular Marijuana Establishment and its specific location. The Departments will generate reports to the Zoning Board of Appeals based on their expertise and any pertinent public feedback. The Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the reports in determining whether or not to issue a special permit.

The applicant cannot open for business without a Select Board license, a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and a State license.

HOW DO I STAY INFORMED THROUGH THE PUBLIC PROCESS IN RESPECT TO FUTURE MARIJUANA LICENSES?

Sign up for notifications by utilizing the “Notify Me” notification system. You should consider signing up for notifications from the Planning Board, Advisory Council of Public Health, or others.