Update on Possible Zoning Laws in Massachusetts

Lately, it seems that a number of states that approved of medical marijuana are having a sudden change of heart. Well, a “change of heart” may be a bit misleading. A more precise rendition of current events would be that the people in those very same communities who voted against medical marijuana are now pushing hard to delay the implementation of that particular pain reliever. Officials in Massachusetts are now insisting on a one-year ban claiming that medical marijuana is still not properly regulated. In addition to that, they are even considering new zoning laws, which would be imposed on the new community so the distribution of the drug could be heavily controlled or banned altogether.

Implementation of Zoning Laws

Lancaster Planning Director Noreen Piazza claims that even though they are entirely serious about the zoning laws, they still have a lot to learn as they currently don’t know what the zoning laws are going to encompass exactly. For instance, centers are now called “treatment systems” and they would be some of checkpoints that would grow, distribute and process marijuana to patients in need. We have already written how the state attorney generals office didn’t really see eye to eye with the locals in Wakefield who also requested a set of their own zoning laws which would inevitably be in direct collision with the state law. So, yes, in Wakefield that particular suggestion didn’t fly that well. So, why does Mrs. Noreen Piazza believe it will go through in Lancaster?

Well, according to Piazza, this is not really a moratorium or a permanent ban; this is actually more of a 12 month ban that would be quite convenient for the Planning Board because it would have more time to decide how to implement the zoning laws and what effect would it have on the community. As you can tell, the Massachusetts Planning Board is quite busy lately and their dedication won’t be subsiding anytime soon. For now, a maximum of five dispensaries is allowed in each county and Piazza said they wont be allowing any dispensary openings if they are not heavily regulated first.

Fitchburg Moratorium

Similar to Lancaster, Fitchburg is considering a moratorium. However, the duration of that moratorium would be cut in half when compared to Lancaster. The 180-day moratorium would go into effect on May 1st. They would also use the time to see in which section of the town would the zoning laws be implemented. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws doesn’t have a problem with possible moratoriums and their executive director went public by saying that he would rather see regulations implemented carefully instead of suffering the consequences later on.

As a reminder, medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts on January 1st, 2013. What do you think; will the zoning laws be implemented despite the state law?

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