WBUR

Mass. AG: Towns Cannot Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

BOSTON — The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has issued a decision that towns and cities cannot enact total bans on medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders.

The decision (PDF), released in response to a Wakefield bylaw banning dispensaries in the town, says such a ban would “frustrate the purpose” of the medical marijuana law voters passed through Question 3 on the November 2012 ballot.

The decision, written by Assistant Attorney General Margaret Hurley, director of the Municipal Law Unit, says the law’s legislative purpose “could not be served if a municipality could prohibit treatment centers within its borders, for if one municipality could do so, presumably all could do so.”

Municipalities are, however, allowed to adopt zoning bylaws to regulate dispensaries, according to Hurley.

In a separate decision in response to a bylaw passed by the town of Burlington, Hurley says towns can adopt temporary moratoriums on dispensaries in order to have time to plan properly.

Ruth Clay, the health director for Wakefield, Reading and Melrose — all of which recently approved dispensary bans — said she’s “disappointed” with the decision but understands the reasoning behind it.

“The towns will look at the variety of options that include potentially having a moratorium… or having restrictions,” Clay said.

In an earlier WBUR interview on Monday, Clay said although she and other local officials aren’t “morally opposed” to medical marijuana, dispensaries wouldn’t be “in keeping with the vision” for the towns. They have a strong focus on substance abuse prevention through the use of federal Drug Free Communities grants, she said, and are concerned youth marijuana use will increase if dispensaries open there.

Wednesday’s decision rejects the idea of any municipality banning dispensaries, but the attorney general only has statutory authority over town bylaws, not ordinances passed by cities.

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  • MassCentral420

    In an interview Monday,
    Ruth Clay, the health director for Wakefield, Reading and Melrose, said
    although she and other local officials aren’t “morally opposed” to
    medical marijuana, dispensaries wouldn’t be “in keeping with the vision”
    for those communities.

    Whose vision?? In the article Ms. Clay stated that the tree towns she represents wouldn’t be “in keeping with the vision” for those communities.

    SO she is not concerned with what voters want,,, they must be renters, not property owners so who cares what they think, right???

    In each of the towns over 50% of the voters are in favor of medical marijuana?

    http://www.boston.com/news/spe

    How can an “educated” woman be so ignorant and expect others to listen???

  • Al Dorman28

    The prohibitionist scum will always work against the will of the People. We need to fight them at every step.

    • dust truck

      I’m not so sure it’s a prohibition issue. Seems to me that the towns didn’t want it for the same reason they don’t want a stripmall or a Walmart.

      EDIT: Come to think of it, that’s probably the solution for these towns. If they can prohibit a broad class of business they can probably make sure that the dispensaries are included in that class.

      • Al Dorman28

        Perhaps Wakefield will ban all pharmacies in that case. At very least, that would be consistent.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003854179878 Orange Sunshine

        not a good comparison. A pot dispensary doesn’t come into town and destroy small businesses, as far as we know. But we know that Walmart is famous for that.

        • dust truck

          Well, I was thinking of the ugly “big box” stores or strip malls, being an unsightly addition to the landscape. Some towns, such as Sharon, have strict limitations on all businesses, hence the reason that Sharon residents have to travel farther just to get groceries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005492913365 Facebook User

    Are you from MA ? Are you Interested in
    obtaining your Medical Marijuana Card sooner than later ? Canna Care
    Docs based in the Boston area can help guide you in the right
    direction. We are not a dispensary , we are a Dr. evaluation office.
    If you are 18+ , and are ready for more information on your
    qualification status, call us @ 781 – 382 – 8053 . ( We now have
    a FB page : /pages/CANNA-CARE-DOCS-MA/564346113584079?fref=ts
    )

  • awitness63

    I live in Wakefield and voted in favor of allowing medical marijuana in this state. I was furious over the knee-jerk reaction Ms. Clay,town administrator Mr. Maio and the rest of these bureaucrats made when they decided to ban dispensaries Was there a cost-benefit analysis done prior to making the decision? No. Would it benefit the town financially to have a dispensary? We don’t know. Could a dispensary have been located in an industrial part of town? You bet. There was only hysteria that kids would get their hands on pot – as if it’s not already readily available. Meanwhile, look at the police logs and see how many prescription drugs are abused, sold, houses broken into, etc. Did Wakefield decide to ban pharmacies? The local media was no better, calling potential users of MM dispensaries, pot heads,and generally maligning them. When the local diabetes supply shop opened up a few years ago, was there concern about kids having access to needles? Stupidity knows no bounds.

  • Brian Sullivan

    Are you from MA ? Are you Interested in
    obtaining your Medical Marijuana Card sooner than later ? Canna Care
    Docs based in the Boston area can help guide you in the right
    direction. We are not a dispensary , we are a Dr. evaluation office.
    If you are 18+ , and are ready for more information on your
    qualification status, call us @ 781 – 382 – 8053 . ( We now have
    a FB page : /pages/CANNA-CARE-DOCS-MA/564346113584079?fref=ts
    )

  • TJtruthandjustice

    I think this is an outrageous violation of local rights. This whole “medicinal marijuana” thing drives me nuts. Sure, pot may be an effective treatment for a limited number of disorders (chemotherapy treatment, MS, certain nerve disorders) and I support that. But I absolutely guarantee that the vast majority of the customers of these outfits will be stoners with prescriptions for things like “depression” and “anxiety.” Two of the symptoms of giving up weed after long-term use happen to be depression and anxiety, so it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, The fact is that weed is powerful drug that is abused by millions of people and that has a profoundly negative impact on concentration, motivation and memory when smoked on a daily basis.

    I speak as a former long-term regular user who regrets all the time I wasted believing the pro-pot bull about it being harmless. It’s an insidious drug that will have a huge impact on your life if you take it daily. Unlike with alcohol, cocaine or heroin, you don’t hit bottom in a hard and fast way with pot. You just wake up one day realizing that you let all kinds of opportunities slip by you. THC is fat soluble, so once you get up to a certain blood level, you stay there for the duration. And if you smoke daily, that’s where you’ll end up – on some level, permanently high. For the people who proclaim that pot is not addictive, try giving it up after smoking it for a few decades and then get back to me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kingdemarfil Moc Te Zuma

      I been smoking for 10 years..just quited a month ago. Im feeling great. The reason for quiting was I got probation and my probation officer is threating to send me to a SAP (distance abuse program). Where I will be for six month and my bills will start stacking up. So far I can tell you that withdrawal ain’t that bad. Im just having trouble sleeping but hopefully that will pass. Other than that im feeling great

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000485123567 Paul Mcguire

    Wake n bake Wakefield. good on ya.

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