State's Message: Regulate Medical Marijuana Do Not Ban It
Marlborough's plan to regulate, not ban, medical marijuana dispensaries falls in line with a decision by the state attorney general's office to strike down a Wakefield ban on the centers.
The message has come through clear from the state: cities and towns have the ability to regulate but not ban medical marijuana centers within their borders, according to a statement from the attorney general's office.
In 2012 a ballot petition was passed, and supported in Marlborough by nearly 10,000 voters, allowing medical marijuana 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," according to a release by the office Thursday.
The office concluded that municipalities can adopt other zoning by-laws to regulate the location of dispensaries within the city or town. This is the direction that Marlborough officials have moved towards.
“The city of Marlborough did support this," City Councilor Matt Elder told Marlborough Patch in December referring to the Nov. 8 election results where Marlborough residents voted nearly two to one in favor of allowing medical marijuana centers. "We are not looking to make sure it can’t go anywhere in the city."
That proposed zoning would require a marijuana center to have a special permit under the proposed zoning. It will not be located:
- Within five thousand (5,000) feet of another Medical Marijuana Treatment Center.
- Within five thousand (5,000) feet of a Narcotic Detoxification and/or maintenance facility.
- Within one thousand (1,000) feet of a school.
- Within one thousand (1,000) feet of a recreational facility.
- Within one thousand (1,000) feet of an elderly housing facility.
- Within one thousand (1,000) feet of a retirement community.
The issue has not been brought back to the City Council. The attorney general's office did support the ability of municipalities to regulate the location of dispensaries as well as upholding a moratorium on the centers voted through in the Town of Burlington. That regulation would not allow centers to go in until June 30, 2014 which is consistent with allowing the town to study the issue, said the office.
According to Boston.com, draft regulations could be released as early as March 29 with implementation by May 24.