FAIRHAVEN — The wait will soon be over for those looking to purchase retail recreational marijuana from a dispensary in Fairhaven.

A special Town Meeting held Tuesday night in Fairhaven saw the passage of a zoning bylaw for recreational marijuana, with members approving the measure by a two-thirds majority.

The zoning bylaw forces recreational marijuana establishments to adhere to the same restrictions the Town currently has in place for medical marijuana dispensaries. The number of recreational establishments will not exceed a total of 20% of the number of liquor stores in operation in Fairhaven, keeping the maximum allowable number of recreational pot shops to just three. Recreational establishments will only be operated in areas zoned for business or industrial use.

Recreational marijuana establishments must also meet application requirements including a security plan, management plan, resource plan, and traffic impact report before they receive approval from the Town's Planning Board.

Once applicants receive licensure and open an establishment, the shop must adhere to strict guidelines to remain in compliance with the bylaw. Marijuana or marijuana-derived products are not to be consumed on-site, and manufacturing or extraction in a building with residential uses is prohibited. Recreational shops are also not permitted to allow self-service by consumers, including marijuana vending machines. Hours of operation for retail recreational shops will be set by a special permit through the town.

Following the statewide passage of the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, Fairhaven put in place a moratorium on the sale of recreational weed. The moratorium is set to expire on December 28 of this year. A proposal to extend the moratorium by six months failed at Tuesday's Town Meeting.

Tim Keogh, President of medical marijuana dispensary Bask Premium Cannabis in Fairhaven, was pleased with the votes taken Tuesday night. Keogh says he and his partners were supportive of the original moratorium, as it allowed the Town to craft proper guidelines for the burgeoning recreational marijuana industry.

"We think that the Planning Board has done a nice job at putting together tough regulations that mimic, or certainly mirror, what the Cannabis Control Commission has put forward."

Keogh says plans to also include the sale of recreational marijuana at the current medical dispensary will now move forward, beginning with drafting an application for a retail recreational marijuana license through the state, and then negotiating a host community agreement with the Town of Fairhaven.

As for a timeline of when recreational marijuana will be available for sale through Bask, Keogh says, if all goes well, sales of recreational weed could begin in six months.

"But don't hold me to it," said Keogh. "I think that's optimistic."

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