Licensing Commission Soliciting Feedback on Marijuana Licenses

The Chelsea Licensing Commission is soliciting feedback from the public on how it issues retail marijuana licenses in the city.

The city currently has three active licenses, and thanks to the recent census, there are three more licenses that are available for retail dispensaries.

At last week’s Licensing Commission meeting, Chair Marnie MacAlpine said the commission will be soliciting input from the public about regulations surrounding the issuance of those new licenses at its March 16 meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

The biggest issue might be that there are more worthy applicants than there are available licenses come the March 16 meeting.

City solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher noted that there are three pending applications for a retail marijuana license, and that a fourth potential applicant has recently gained zoning approval and could be ready by March 16.

During last week’s meeting, Police Chief Keith Houghton said that there have been no issues with the three current retail establishments, and that all the pending applicants have passed security reviews and have been cooperative with the department and the city.

“Whoever gets the licenses deserve it, I don’t think the police have issues with any of them,” said Houghton.

MacAlpine said it will be down to the Licensing Commission as to how it wants to proceed with issuing the available licenses, adding that the public feedback will be important to help with the process.

“It will be productive for us as a commission to ask for feedback from the public and ask them to come before us at next month’s meeting,” said MacAlpine.

MacAlpine noted that in the past, the commission has issued liquor licenses on a first-come, first-served basis, although the commission recently made some changes to diversify the process of issuing liquor licenses.

“I don’t know if that is necessarily a possible thing when it comes to the marijuana licenses,” she said. “I don’t have a huge opinion either way on the matter, which is why I think it is important to hear from the community. Our job is to represent them and what is best for the community.”

MacAlpine said she wants the commission to be fair when it comes to issuing licenses, especially since there may be more applicants than licenses that are immediately available.

“Every single group has spent a lot of money on this, and it’s terrible to say no to any of them,” said commission member Mike McAteer.

City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher said the City Council has prioritized Chelsea residents, social equity applicants, and those most affected by drug policies when it comes to issuing retail marijuana licenses.

However, Fisher noted that even local applicants often have funding partners that might be from outside the city.

“So it’s not that simple to say you just want residents or social equity applicants, you are going to have to balance it,” said Fisher.

MacAlpine said it might have to come down to which applicants had their full applications completed first when it is time to decide to issue the licenses.

“If everyone is in a fair space when it comes to their connections to Chelsea, we want to make sure we are following who got everything done properly first to try to be fair, since it is all going to hit the commission at the same time,” she said.

In other business, the commission granted an amusement and entertainment license for a radio at Como en Casa on Shurtleff Street.

Fisher also noted that the City Council is considering some regulation changes that might affect how the Licensing Commission issues special permits for outdoor events on city property.

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