Woburn City Council has approved a one-year moratorium on applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
According to minutes from the Feb. 5 City Council meeting, provided by Town Clerk William Campbell, the council voted 7-2 to approve the measure, which will be in place until Jan. 1, 2014.
The move was in response to the passage of a ballot article that now allows medical marijuana in Massachusetts in the November, 2012 election. The passage of ballot question 3 allows for medical marijuana dispensaries, up to five in each Massachusetts county. The new law goes into effect January 1, but requires rules and regulations be set up by the Department of Public Health.
According to the meeting notes, the purpose of the moratorium was to give Woburn officials time to assess the situation and come up with guidelines or restrictions for the city.
"The legislation requires the state Department of Public Health to issue regulations regarding implementation of the legislation by May 1, 2013 which are expected to provide guidance in regulating medical marijuana, including medical marijuana treatment centers," the minutes read. "As the regulation of medical marijuana raises novel and complex legal and planning issues, the City requires adequate time to consider whether to allow facilities associated with the medical use of marijuana, to the extent that such facilities are permitted under state laws and regulations, and, if so, where and under what conditions should such facilities be located in the City of Woburn."
While the moratorium is in effect medical marijuana facilities will not be permitted in any zoning district and use variances are prohibited.
According to the meeting notes, there was also some brief discussion on outright prohibition in the city.
"Alderman Haggerty stated that he will vote against this proposal as he believes the use should be banned outright," the minutes read. "Alderman DiTucci stated that she is concerned that the bans imposed on the use in other communities will not withstand judicial scrutiny, and that this proposal allows the city to await the State guidelines and then deal appropriately with the matter. Alderman Anderson stated that he believes that the use should be banned but he also sees value in imposing the moratorium as well."
In the end Haggerty and Anderson voted against and the rest voted in favor.