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Impact of medical marijuana in Needham up for discussion Tuesday night

Posted by Evan Allen  January 7, 2013 03:45 PM

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The Needham Board of Selectmen will discuss with the Board of Health the impact of the new medical marijuana law on the town of Needham at a meeting on Tuesday night. The Board of Health will share its concerns about the law.

In November last year, Massachusetts residents voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana. The law took effect on Jan. 1 of this year, but the state Department of Public Health has 120 days to issue regulations.

The law allows patients with qualifying medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS and Crohn’s disease, to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana for personal medical use. It allows no more than 35 nonprofit treatment centers, with at least one but no more than five in a county. Patients who are unable to make it to centers will, under certain circumstances, be allowed to cultivate their own marijuana.

In Needham, officials are trying to plan for the possible impact of marijuana dispensaries on the town.

“I think everybody’s concerned, because nobody knows exactly what that entails,” said selectman Moe Handel. “Nobody wants to be caught unprepared.”

Included in the agenda packet is a proposed warrant article for a new by-law that would impose a $200 fine for people caught smoking marijuana in public will also be up for discussion.

The article, which is being proposed by the Board of Health and Police Department, would ban the use of marijuana in any public area, including streets, sidewalks, public ways, footways, passageways, stairs, bridges, parks, playgrounds, beaches, recreation areas, boat landings, public buildings, schoolhouse, school grounds, cemetery, parking lots or other public property, or on any bus or passenger conveyance operated by a common carrier, or in any place accessible to the public.

State law already imposes a fine of $100 for anyone caught in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The proposed warrant article would impose a fine of $200 for the offense of consumption in public.

There will be no vote taken at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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

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