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Belmont Planning Board considering medical marijuana moratorium

Posted by Evan Allen  February 7, 2013 03:38 PM

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The Belmont Planning Board is considering bringing a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and home cultivation before Town Meeting in April, according to chairman Sami Baghdady.

“The reason for the moratorium is because we are still waiting for direction from the state,” said Baghdady. “We need time before we pass any permanent zoning regulations.”

In November last year, Massachusetts residents voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from diseases such as cancer, AIDS and Crohn’s disease. It allows up to 35 medical marijuana dispensaries to open in the state, and also allows some patients to cultivate their own marijuana.

The law technically took effect on Jan. 1, but the state Department of Public Health has 120 days to write regulations to guide its implementation. Recently, the department has indicated that it may need longer.

Many towns are eyeing similar moratoriums, including Needham and Wellesley.

The Belmont moratorium would last until June 30, 2014, or sooner if the board were able to pass permanent regulations before then, said Baghdady.

The next step, said Baghdady, is for the Planning Board to hold public hearings, none of which have yet been scheduled. Based on public comments, the board will take an official vote on what recommendation to make to Town Meeting, which begins on April 29.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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