Fall River Rep. Carole Fiola announced legislation Friday that would require every municipality across the state to involve its top locally elected board in the approval process for marijuana businesses, a direct response to allegations that the city's mayor used his position to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from prospective vendors.
Fiola's bill would update the state's cannabis law to mandate that retail companies cannot open unless they secure agreement, support or non-opposition from a majority vote of a town's select board. In cities, the bill would require majority support from the city council and backing from the chief executive or mayor.
Under existing law, communities can set their own approval processes, and in some places the power to green-light marijuana vendors rests only with a single official.
That was the case in Fall River, where federal prosecutors alleged last week that Mayor Jasiel Correia II told companies he would only grant approval if he received bribes.
Fiola and other Fall River legislators this week asked the Cannabis Control Commission to implement a moratorium on Fall River license applications to allow for a review of the process. Rep. Christopher Markey filed a bill (HD 4481) that would impose a moratorium until Jan. 15, 2020.