ATTLEBORO — A proposal to temporarily ban shops that sell recreational marijuana is before the city council.
Council President Frank Cook asked for the ban to give the city time to write an ordinance that would regulate the shops which were legalized in a statewide ballot last year.
While the sale of recreational marijuana was approved by voters, neither the state nor the city has issued regulations to govern the business.
Without an ordinance that regulates sale of the drug at the local level, a pot shop could open up on Park Street in the center of town or some other business district, which may not please residents, Cook said.
“One of these businesses could move in and set up downtown and we’d have no say in it,” he said. “All this is doing is protecting the city while we develop an appropriate ordinance.”
Cook said he’s trying to avoid a situation like that which occurred when an adult video store opened in South Attleboro and the city could do nothing to stop it because it had no rules about adult entertainment businesses.
An ordinance regulating medical marijuana limited retail and growing facilities for that business to industrial zones and imposed other restrictions.
“We’re not trying to override the will of the people, but we have a responsibility to regulate where these (businesses) can go,” Cook said.
If approved, the moratorium would remain in place through Dec. 31 of 2018.
The proposed ordinance would require the council to plan for potential impacts of the business.
The proposal, which came to the council as “new business,” from Cook was referred to the ordinance committee headed up by councilor Jay DiLisio.
A public hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 21 at City Hall.
Usually requests to consider “new business” items like Cook’s are routinely assigned to a committee for discussion, but this one got two votes against.
Councilors Richard Conti and Sara Lynn Reynolds both voted “no.”
Conti said the temporary ban isn’t needed.
Meanwhile, Cook said the city could ban the shops, but that would have to be decided by city voters because the statewide question was approved in Attleboro.
City voters backed the sale of recreational marijuana with 57 percent of the vote which translates to 11,602 “yes” votes and 8,806 “no” votes.
Other area communities have imposed a moratorium or banned the sale of the drug for recreational use altogether.
Foxboro banned it last spring and Mansfield imposed a moratorium on pot shops.