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Mass. AG Keeps Towns From Banning Marijuana Treatment Centers

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

 

Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, issued a ruling today keeping towns from enacting a full ban on marijuana treatment centers.

The decision regarded a by-law passed by the Town of Wakefield. While towns are unable to ban them fully, they are able to adopt zoning by-laws to regulate such treatment centers and to enact temporary moratoriums on the development of the centers, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Worcester City Council has explored zoning laws in relation to marijuana dispensaries, including a request to City Manager Michael O'Brien for a report on where and how medical marijuana dispensaries should be zoned in the City.

At the time, Councilor George Russell requested the report from the City Manager in order to head off any potential trouble later on with the siting of a medical marijuana dispensary in such areas as residential zones. The Councilor said that he personally believed such a facility should be located in a medical zone.

In the decision issued today to the Town of Wakefield, the AG ruled that the outright ban conflicted with the statute passed by ballot petition in 2012 that ensures reasonable access to marijuana treatment centers.

That law’s purpose cannot be served if a municipality were to prohibit treatment centers within its borders, for if one municipality were allowed to do so, all could do so, making reasonable access impossible. The AG’s office did conclude that municipalities can adopt other zoning by-laws to regulate, for example, the location of these treatment centers within the town.

 

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