AG: Wakefield Medical Marijuana Bylaw Incompatible With State Law
Attorney General Martha Coakley determines that Wakefield's medical marijuana zoning bylaw from the November town meeting is incompatible with the voter-approved state law.
State Attorney General Martha Coakley's office has determined that a zoning ban on medical marijuana dispensaries approved at last November’s Wakefield town meeting conflicts with state law.
Voters who attended the November Wakefield town meeting approved the zoning change against medical marijuana dispensaries by a 143-9 margin. Earlier in November, voters in the general election approved Question 3, the measure legalizing medical marijuana in Massachusetts, by a 54.3 – 45.6 margin.
“The AG ruled that the outright ban conflicted with the statute passed by ballot petition in 2012 that ensures reasonable access to marijuana treatment centers,” said the announcement. “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.”
Still, the attorney general also stated that towns “can adopt other zoning by-laws to regulate, for example, the location of these treatment centers within the town.”
Last September, an area resident, Carl Swanson, briefly had an article on the town meeting warrant that would have essentially asked the town to authorize one specific dispensary.
The town meeting essentially saw two competing proposals on the ballot – the withdrawn one by Swanson, and the one in question this week that was promoted during that time by town officials such as Board of Health Director Ruth Clay and Police Chief Richard Smith.
In a related decision, Coakley also reported that she had approved a by-law in the town of Burlington placing a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana centers until June 30, 2014.
“The temporary moratorium is consistent with the Town’s authority to impose reasonable time limitations on development while it conducts planning studies and considers the implication of state Department of Public Health regulations concerning such centers, which are expected to be issued in May 2013,” wrote Coakley in regard to that case.