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Medical Marijuana: Top Stories in Central Mass in 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

 

There were several big initiatives on the ballot in Massachusetts this year, with right to repair and physician-assisted suicide, but medical marijuana was the biggest.

The campaign for Question 3, which would remove state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients, received over $1 million in support from billionaire Peter Lewis, chairman of the Ohio-based Progressive Insurance Company and a major proponent of medical pot across the country.

The initiative passed by a wide margin, 63 percent to 37 percent, but what exactly the law will look like when implemented in 2013 is still a big question mark. Under the approved law, a maximum of 35 treatment centers can be established in the first year, with at least one but no more than five in each of the Commonwealth's counties. The state's Department of Public Health has 120 days from January 1 to develop and release registration applications and licensing guidelines for dispensaries, and a number of enterprising individuals and groups have already begun work to get in on the ground floor of what could be a lucrative new industry in the Bay State.

However, not everyone is eager to see the new law go into effect. The Massachusetts Municipal Association has called for a six-month delay on implementing the law in order to give cities and towns time to update zoning laws or institute additional regulations that would apply to medical marijuana treatment centers. City Councilor Konstantina Lukes introduced a resolution that would prohibit the siting of any dispensaries within the City of Worcester, but the Council moved to file the resolution rather than adopt it, citing the medical marijuana law's wide margin of victory in the City itself.

Meanwhile, marijuana advocates are already looking forward to 2016, when they are confident Massachusetts voters will follow the trail blazed by Colorado and Washington this year and pass another ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use of pot.

 

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