For Immediate Release - March 13, 2013

AG Issues Decisions on Medical Marijuana Bylaws

BOSTON –Towns are not permitted to enact a total ban on marijuana treatment centers, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office ruled today in a decision regarding a by-law passed by the Town of Wakefield. Towns, however, are able to adopt zoning by-laws to regulate such treatment centers and to enact temporary moratoriums on the development of the centers, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

In the decision issued today to the Town of Wakefield, 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. 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. The AG’s office did conclude that municipalities can adopt other zoning by-laws to regulate, for example, the location of these treatment centers within the town.

In a separate decision also issued today, AG Coakley approved a by-law imposing a temporary moratorium on marijuana treatment centers in the Town of Burlington, pending further study of the zoning issue. The decision was in response to a by-law passed by the Town, which imposed a temporary moratorium on these 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.

The AG’s Municipal Law Unit reviews all by-laws adopted or amended by a town. The AG’s Office reviews by-laws solely to ensure their consistency with state and federal law; the review is not based on any policy views of the Attorney General or her office.

For access to the Wakefield decision, click here. For access to the Burlington decision, click here.

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