Moratorium on marijuana center holds firm in city
By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Last month councilors approved a temporary moratorium pending development and clarification of the legal issues concerning medical marijuana use before pursuing local regulations and policy.
Several communities in the Metrowest area are also seeking temporary moratoriums to allow more time to study the manner to proceed within the limits of the provisions of the new law. These communities include Hudson, Ashland, Hopkinton, Framingham and Natick. Lawmakers in each community are waiting for the final draft of regulations to be provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) which is expected to provide guidance for establishing and operating the treatment centers.
In the order adopted by the City Council, it states, “The regulation of medical marijuana treatment centers raises novel and complex legal, planning, and public safety issues, and the city needs time to study and consider regulation of such centers and those issues, as well as to address the potential impact of MDPH regulations on local zoning and to undertake a planning process to consider amending the Zoning Ordinance regarding the regulation of such centers and other uses related to such regulation.”
It was also stated that the city needs to engage in a planning process to address the effects of such use and to enact ordinances consistent with sound land-use planning goals and objectives.
Sixty three percent of the voters in the commonwealth approved the new law in the November 6, 2012 state election. Council President Patricia Pope and Ward 5 City Councilor Robert Seymour made the original request to the council to impose the temporary 12-month moratorium. Councilor-at-Large Mark Oram had suggested ending it Dec. 31 but councilors voted for the full year.
While the moratorium is in effect, there will be no action on the use of land or structures for a medical marijuana treatment center, as well as prohibiting the development of related products such as food, aerosols, oil, ointments or educational materials for medical purposes considered accessory to any use permitted in the city. The proposed moratorium would delay the opening of treatment centers until June 30, 2014.
The public hearing was part of the process conducted by the Planning Board and the Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee.
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