As I predicted months ago, Massachusetts towns cannot enact zoning by-laws prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in town, as the Attorney General has just ruled in an advisory opinion involving the Town of Wakefield. In the same ruling, the Attorney General advised that towns do have the authority through its zoning powers to regulate the location, operating hours, and other zoning related aspects of these dispensaries. In a separate ruling involving the Town of Burlington, the AG ruled that towns may enact a temporary moratorium (through June 2014) on the opening of marijuana dispensaries.
Now it will be up to towns and cities to regulate where medical marijuana centers will be located within their borders — for example, near a hospital, in an industrial area or away from schools or residential areas.
This is the first legal ruling involving medical marijuana in the Commonwealth, and certainly won’t be the last. This hot-button issue will most definitely find its way to the courts, and I’ll be keeping you updated with any new developments.