Pubdate: Sat, 24 Nov 2012
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2012 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Neal Simpson


BRAINTREE =AD Cities and towns south of Boston are
looking for ways to relegate soon-to-be-legal
medical marijuana clinics to the same
neighborhoods set aside for porn shops, strip clubs and adult video stores.

Officials in Quincy, Braintree and Hanover are
considering restrictions that would limit medical
marijuana treatment centers to adult
entertainment zoning districts, typically located
far from schools, homes and day care centers.

Under the law, which voters approved Nov. 6, the
state must register up to 35 marijuana centers by
the end of 2013, including at least one in each county.

The law goes into effect Jan 1, but the state
Department of Public Health has 120 days to issue regulations.

Some Massachusetts towns, including Reading and
Wakefield, have already moved to ban the new
marijuana facilities, which would be allowed to
grow, process and sell marijuana to eligible patients.

On the South Shore, where the marijuana bill
passed easily in every city and town, many
officials say they just want to limit where the
facilities can open, not ban them outright.

There's an appropriate place within the town for
any potential marijuana distribution center,=94
said Sean Powers, a Braintree town councilor who
is developing restrictions for the centers.
=93Everyone, whether you voted for or against the
measure, wouldn't want marijuana growing near our
schools or the council on aging center or town hall.=94

Powers said town hall officials are considering a
new zoning district that would limit the
dispensaries to certain sections of town. But he
said the town's lawyer is still trying to
determine how much leeway the town has to set limits.

Other municipal leaders are having similar conversations.

In Quincy, City Councilor Brian Palmucci has
drafted an ordinance, modeled after the city's
adult entertainment district, that would ban
marijuana dispensaries within 1,500 feet of a
residential district, school, child care facility
or business that serves alcohol. Officials in
Hanover are considering zoning that would limit
the dispensaries to the town's adult
entertainment district, which includes two
commercial areas along Route 53 on either side of
Route 3, but Town Manager Troy Clarkson said he
still needs to consult with business owners in the area.

We're not going to do anything without having a
real inclusive discussion with those folks,=94 he said.

Supporters of the marijuana law caution that
restricting the location of marijuana
dispensaries, or banning them outright, could
have unintended consequences for towns. Under the
law, patients who do not live near a marijuana
center could seek approval to grow and process the drug in their home.

Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, said
communities that pass overly onerous restrictions
on marijuana centers could also run afoul of new the state law.

In that case, there were would be a conflict
between those town ordinances and the state law,=94 he said.

Not all town officials are preparing to model
restrictions for medical marijuana after those in
place for adult entertainment. Ted Alexiades, the
town administrator in Hingham, said the town
needs to look at the specific issues presented by
a marijuana treatment center rather than lumping
them in with porn stores and strip clubs.

We can't just simply say, `Well, what was good
for adult zoning has to be good for this,'=94 he said. =93How do we know?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom