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Arlington to consider moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

Posted by Brock Parker  April 2, 2013 02:17 PM

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Arlington officials are seeking to place a moratorium on the opening of any marijuana dispensaries in the town until the spring of 2014.

The moratorium, as well as a zoning proposal that would only allow the medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Arlington Center, will go up for a vote at Town Meeting this month.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said the local proposals have been in the works since January after Massachusetts voters approved a referendum last fall that will allow patients with certain medical conditions to obtain marijuana for medical use.

The new law took effect on Jan. 1, but the state Department of Public Health Department has 120 days to draw up rules for implementing it. Draft recommendations issued last week still need to be approved and the state will hold public hearings on them later this month.

In a March ruling, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office struck down an effort in Wakefield to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The attorney general’s office said towns can regulate, but not prohibit the dispensaries under state law. In a separate ruling, Coakley’s office approved a moratorium on the medical marijuana treatment centers by Burlington until mid 2014.

Chapdelaine said placing a moratorium on any marijuana dispensaries will give Arlington more time to consider regulations more comprehensively. The moratorium would last until the town’s Annual Town Meeting in the spring of 2014.

The zoning proposal would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open only in the town’s central business district, which Chapdelaine said is much of Arlington Center.
He said the town’s Redevelopment Board have voted in favor of the two articles and Arlington selectmen voted in favor of both proposals Monday night.

But Arlington’s Town Meeting, which begins on April 22, will have the final say.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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