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Under Mass. Attorney General Decision, Marijuana Moratoriums Can Last Longer

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

State Attorney General Maura Healey is letting municipalities extend their temporary bans on recreational marijuana for another year, without having to ask their residents about the decision.

Previously, she said temporary moratoriums could only last through this year.

But, as the Boston Globe first reported, Healey now wants to give communities more time to create zoning rules.

"While many communities have enacted bylaws that will allow marijuana establishments, a small number have expressed a need for some additional time to address implementation of recreational marijuana licensing, sales, and facilities," a Healey spokesperson said in a statement. "Given ongoing regulatory activity by the Cannabis Control Commission, such temporary local moratoriums are consistent with state law.”

Pot advocates say they worry the change will hurt the rollout of legal marijuana.

"Towns have zoned for tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals for years," said Jim Borghesani of the Marijuana Policy Project. "It is a fiction that they need more time to figure out how to zone for cannabis. The only people who will benefit from Maura Healey’s ruling are the criminals who have controlled cannabis sales for decades."

About 160 cities and towns have a moratorium of some sort in place, most of which were set to expire at the end of the year.

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