Melrose Weighing Its Options After AG Says Mass. Towns Cannot Bar Marijuana Dispensaries
Attorney General Martha Coakley recently ruled that Massachusetts communities cannot prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in towns and cities but they can implement zoning regulations, according to the Boston Globe.
After Attorney General Martha Coakley recently ruled that Massachusetts communities cannot prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in towns and cities but can implement zoning regulations, according to the Boston Globe, city officials in Melrose are weighing their options before moving forward.
Coakley struck down a Wakefield bylaw that would have barred the marijuana dispensaries, but also separately approved a bylaw adopted in Burlington that places a moratorium on the facilities until the town completes a further study of zoning issues, according to the Globe report. Like Wakefield, Melrose and Reading previously approved bans on marijuana dispensaries in late 2012.
Melrose City Soliticor Robert Van Campen told Patch that city officials plan to meet internally to discuss the marijuana dispensaries situation, adding that no date has been set for either a private or public session.
On Nov. 6, 2012, Massachusetts voters passed Question 3, which will allow doctors to prescribe marijuana as part of a treatment, was approved on election day. The new law allows for as many as 35 dispensaries to open around the state where patients can receive up to a 60-day supply of marijuana, reads the Globe report.
"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," Coakley wrote in her decision rejecting the Wakefield bylaw that would have banned the dispensaries outright.
Ruth Clay, who serves as health director for Melrose, Reading and Wakefield, told the Globe she was disappointed with Coakley's ruling but would comply with it.
"We were never morally opposed to medical marijuana. We were very concerned about how (the ballot question) was written, with a lot of opportunity for abuse," Clay told the Globe. "We were concerned about protecting the consumers, as well as protecting the community."
Wakefield and Reading will now examine other options, including a temporary moratorium, Clay told the Globe, while in Melrose — which was not directly affected by Tuesday's decision — city officials will now discuss whether to move forward with its ban, she told the Boston newspaper.
Prior to Coakley's decision, Clay, along with Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle, have said that they supported banning marijuana dispensaries in the city during a public hearing in November 2012. During the hearing, Clay explained that Melrose has accepted more than $1.3 million in federal funding and $160,000 in state funding for substance abuse prevention, and if dispensaries were to be allowed in the city that that "would not be a consistent message for the community," she said.
Do you agree with Attorney General Martha Coakley's ruling that towns and cities cannot ban medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in communities? Let us know by posting a comment below.