AG Says Towns Can't Ban Medical Marijuana, Wilmington Officials Push For Delay
Wilmington voters to decide on moratorium at upcoming Town Meeting.
Wilmington town officials are not discouraged by a ruling by Attorney General Martha Coakley this week that said Massachusetts communities cannot ban medical marijuana distribution centers.
In her ruling, Coakley struck down a Wakefield bylaw that would have completely and permanently banned such centers from the town.
However, Coakley did uphold a Burlington bylaw that placed a moratorium on medical marijuana distribution centers until that town can complete an examination of zoning issues, according to an article appearing on Boston.com.
The second part of the ruling is what has Wilmington officials smiling. An article on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting in May, calls for a moratorium similar to that in Burlington.
"We had discussions about this internally and we felt like a ban wouldn't survive a court challenge," said Wilmington Town Manager Jeffrey Hull. "But we felt a moratorium would work. If it's passed at Town Meeting, that will give us time to go over the regulations the state comes up with."
Hull said the moratorium would also give Wilmington officials time to work on zoning bylaws that would restrict where such a distribution center could be located within the town.
In the November election, Bay State voters legalized medical marijuana as a treatment for medical conditions such as AIDS, cancer and Parkinson's disease.
As many as 35 medical marijuana distribution facilities could be opened in Massachusetts.
‘‘The (law's) legislative purpose could not be served if a municipality could prohibit treatment centers within its borders, for if one municipality could do so, presumably all could do so,’’ Coakley's decision read, in part.
Coakley also ruled, however, that cities and towns can put in place bylaws to restrict the location of such facilities within the community.