Bristol Passes Ordinance that Will NOT Impact Grow Rights

The Bristol Town Council, after many sessions, passed an ordinance that will not affect individual cardholders or co-ops who are growing MMj . The ordinance bans vape lounges and in the event that a compassion center plans to move or open in Bristol, they will have to obtain a special permit from the town and be restricted to one of two zones in the Town.

The Council, citing the privacy and other issues raised by those who testified at the workshop and public hearing, decided to delete those portions of the proposed ordinance that would have required registrations and inspections of residential coops and individual grows where there were more than 12 mature plants and all other provisions regarding individual and co-op grows.

It is clear that the Council heard our concerns. Thank you to all those who testified and made phone calls and to Steve Brown of the ACLU.

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Bristol Vote Delayed

The Bristol Town Council held a public hearing last night on its proposed MMj ordinance. RIPAC, patients and caregivers expressed concern over the conflicts with the state MMj Act and emphasized the dangers posed the lack of confidentiality in the ordinance.  The confidentiality concerns were emphasized in a  compelling letter to the Council from Steve Brown of the ACLU. The Council decided that more discussion and refinement of the ordinance was called for and they will continue the discussion in their closed session on December 16.

Bristol Public Hearing Tomorrow, Wed. Dec 2

There will be a hearing at 7pm at the Council Chambers at the Bristol Town Hall on a proposed Medical Marijuana Ordinance that would apply to Bristol residents. If adopted, the ordinance would regulate MMj grows beyond and in contradiction to, the requirements of the Rhode Island MMj Act. The ordinance could have a dramatic impact on any cardholder who is growing more than 12 mature plants, 12 seedlings and in possession of 2.5 ounces. Below are the specific categories of MMj growers and how they would be affected.

  1. Individual cardholder who grows a maximum of 12 mature plants, 12 seedlings and 2.5 ounces in their home

The ordinance would not have an impact on a cardholder who is growing 12 mature plants, 12 seedlings and 2.5 ounces at their residence.

  1. Individual cardholder who grows in a location other than their own home

The ordinance would not permit an individual cardholder to grow in a non-residence.  The only non-residential growing would be in a co-op with two or more cardholders in certain zones and by special permit.

  1. Individual cardholders who grow more than 12 mature plants, 12 seedlings and 2.5 ounces in their residences will need special permit and possible inspection

Individual cardholders who grow more than 12 mature plants, 12 seedlings and have more than 2.5 ounces in their residences, would have to approach a zoning official for a special permit. [note: patients who are also caregivers and caregivers who are registered for 2-5 patients may possess more than 12 mature plants and 2.5 ounces under the state MMj Act] The cardholder would present their “relevant cards” to the zoning official who could then require an inspection to insure compliance with building, fire, and electrical codes.  No individual cardholders would be permitted to have more than 24 mature plants,  12 seedlings or 5 ounces even though the MMj Act permits a patient who is also a caregiver with 2-5 registered patients up to 36 mature plants and 7.5 ounces. Thus the ordinance would reduce the limits that the state law allows.

The ordinance states that the identity and address of the individual cardholder would remain confidential and not subject to the public records law.  Questions have been raised as to whether the Town has the authority to make exceptions to the public records law.

The state MMj Act does not require or authorize local town and cities to require registrations or inspections of individual grows.

  1. Residential Co-ops by Special Permit Only

Residential Co-ops, as defined by the MMj Act, would be permitted in Bristol.  However, unlike the state law, which DOES NOT require notifying local authorities, growing in certain zones, getting an inspection and obtaining a special permit, this ordinance would require a review by the technical review committee. The ordinance states that the identities of cardholders could remain confidential but the address of the co-op would NOT be confidential and would be a matter of a public review and public record.

The state MMj Act requires a residential co-op to post an affidavit from an electrician attesting to compliance with zoning and building codes. It clearly DOES NOT require or authorize town inspections.

  1. Non-residential Co-ops by Special Permit Only

Non-residential co-ops would be restricted to certain zones and applicants would be required to submit to building inspection and public hearing before planning board. The ordinance states that the identities of cardholders could remain confidential but the address of the co-op would NOT be confidential and would be a matter of a public review and public record.

The state MMj Act requires non-residential co-ops to have an inspection by local building inspector but does not require or authorize special use permit or public hearing.