Zoning Rules in Works for Medical Marijuana if Dispensaries Come to Braintree
Braintree voters went solidly in favor of medical marijuana, which passed statewide on Nov. 6, 2012.
Town Councilor Sean Powers is working with the mayor's office to draft zoning guidelines for medical marijuana dispensaries, with the goal of submitting by the end of the year an ordinance restricting where they can be located in Braintree.
Voters in Massachusetts and Braintree approved the legalization of marijuana for medical use earlier this month, allowing non-profit treatment centers to grow and distribute the drug to people with AIDS, cancer and other conditions.
But many questions remain, both on the local level and among state authorities, who are supposed to distribute a more detailed framework for the legislation early next year.
Powers said that he and Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray are collaborating on zoning restrictions that would be similar to those in place for adult entertainment shops.
The conditions may be similar to those being developed in Quincy and other towns, and could keep the marijuana dispensaries a certain amount of feet away from schools, residential neighborhoods, child care facilities and other areas.
"We want to keep it away from schools, we want to keep it away from libraries," Powers said. "There is an appropriate place in town for something like this."
The law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2013. It calls for up to 35 dispensaries throughout the state, with at least one but not more than five in each county. Patients can obtain up to a 60-day supply with authorization from their doctor. The Department of Public Health is developing more detailed guidelines.
In some cases, depending on a patient's hardship, they may be allowed to grow marijuana for their own use at home. That aspect of the law concerns Powers, who said the proposed ordinance may have to address home growing as well.
"We’re not trying to deny anyone any kind of medical care that they need," Powers said. "Folks being able to grow at their homes opens up another can of worms."
Powers said he would like to submit the ordinance to the Town Council by the end of 2012 so that it can be sent to committee for review and revision if necessary.