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Melrose aldermen approve marijuana dispensary ban, 10-0

Posted by Marcia Dick  January 23, 2013 09:06 AM

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The Melrose Board of Aldermen approved the final zoning to keep medical marijuana  dispensaries out of the city on a 10 to 0 vote Tuesday, with no discussion.

Melrose became one of the first cities in the state to propose a ban last November, when a public hearing was held.

Many communities have delayed action until the state Department of Public Health develops regulations for the law, approved by Massachusetts voters on a ballot question in the November election.

Although the law went into effect on Jan. 1, the Department of Public Health has until May 1 to write regulations to govern the dispensaries. Among the issues: How much marijuana constitutes a 60-day supply, and how the dispensaries will operate. The agency is working with the medical community, public safety officials, and local governments to develop the regulations, a spokeswoman said.

“The Department of Public Health will not issue any registration cards, or allow any medical marijuana dispensaries to open until the regulations are in effect,” Ann Roach wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

The law allows the state to license up to 35 dispensaries in 2013. More could be added in later years. At least one dispensary, but no more than five, must be located in each of the state’s 14 counties, according to the law.

Bylaws that pass in towns must be approved by the state attorney general's office, which has 90 days from submission to make a ruling.

In Reading and Wakefield, voters at special town meetings voted in favor of a medical marijuana ban in November. The attorney general’s office has until March 21 to issue a decision to Wakefield, and until April 11 to decide on Reading, spokeswoman Emalie Gainey said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.

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