AG Says Towns Can't Ban Medical Marijuana, Tewksbury Officials Push For Delay
Tewksbury voters to decide on moratorium at upcoming Town Meeting.
Tewksbury town officials are not discouraged by a ruling by Attorney General Martha Coakley this week that said Massachusetts communities cannot ban medical marijuana distribution centers.
In her ruling, Coakley struck down a Wakefield bylaw that would have completely and permanently banned such centers from the town.
However, Coakley did uphold a Burlington bylaw that placed a moratorium on medical marijuana distribution centers until that town can complete an examination of zoning issues, according to an article appearing on Boston.com.
The second part of the ruling is what has Tewkbury officials smiling. An article on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting in May, calls for a moratorium similar to that in Burlington.
"That's why we went for the moratorium and not the ban," said Town Manager Richard Montuori. "We feel like we're in pretty good shape."
When proposing the article at a Board of Selectmen's meeting earlier this year, Montuori said the state hadn't yet established any rules or regulations regarding the facilities for the towns to use as guidelines. If passed at town meeting and signed off on by the Attorney General, the moratorium would stay in effect until those regulations are established, giving Tewksbury time to working appropriate zoning bylaws.
In the November election, Bay State voters legalized medical marijuana as a treatment for medical conditions such as AIDS, cancer and Parkinson's disease.
As many as 35 medical marijuana distribution facilities could be opened in Massachusetts.
‘‘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's decision read, in part.
Coakley also ruled, however, that cities and towns can put in place bylaws to restrict the location of such facilities within the community.