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Woburn City Council Considering Measures for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Woburn City Council is considering a moratorium and zoning changes on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Woburn City Council is considering some moves to prevent, limit or at least regulate possible medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

According to minutes from the Jan. 15 City Council meeting, provided by Town Clerk William Campbell, the council considered two different proposals, a moratorium and a zoning change.

The moves are 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 minutes, Aldermen Michal Anderson and Michael Raymond and Council President Paul Denaro put forward a petition to amend the 1985 Woburn Zoning Ordinance by adding a definition of "medical marijuana treatment center' between "message therapist" and "menu board/order board."

If those changes are approved, no medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed:

  • Within one thousand feet of a residential zoning district, public or private school, or church or other structure used in whole or in part all the time or part of the time for religious or spiritual services.
  • Within one thousand feet of any facility where large numbers of minors regularly congregate.
  • Within two thousand feet of a public park, playground, nursery school or day care center.

The council also discussed a proposal from the Woburn Planning Board on a moratorium, according to the minutes.

In a letter to the council from the planning board, on Jan.8 the board voted to recommend a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries until Jan. 1, 2014.

"At the Planning Board meeting held on January 8, 2013, the Board voted to recommend that the City Council adopt a temporary moratorium on the use of land and structures in Woburn for the siting of medical marijuana treatment centers and associated activities, so as to allow the City sufficient time to engage in a planning process to address the direct and secondary effects of siting such centers in Woburn and to enact zoning amendments in a manner consistent with sound land use planning goals and objectives and any regulations promulgated by the State Department of Public Health," a letter from the board reads.

According to the letter the moratorium would disallow building permits, special permits, variances and site plan approval for any medical marijuana establishment. It would also address any applications that come in before city council votes to establish a moratorium.

"Applications for permits submitted after the first publication of the notice of the public hearing which results in the adoption of this moratorium but before the moratorium’s effective date, shall be administered according to established procedures until the effective date of this moratorium, and if a permit or other relief is granted prior to such effective date, it shall be subject to the effectiveness of this moratorium and shall be issued at the peril of the permit applicant and/or recipient," the letter states.

Woburn City Council did not vote on either measure but instead voted unanimously to continue the public hearing until the meeting on Feb. 19.

What do you think? Should Woburn restrict where medical marijuana dispensaries can be set up? Should the town attempt to prohibit dispensaries all together or simply allow them? Let us know in the comments below.

G C February 05, 2013 at 11:47 AM
The momentum behind legalization will not slow down. Prohibiting them now will cause a loss of revenue for the city once legalization occurs. Restrict them to certain areas? Sure. Restrict them all together? Not forward thinking.
Earnhardt February 05, 2013 at 12:09 PM
The council needs to act soon, and designate an area they can be comfortable with, What about the area that is also zoned "Adult?" Failure to act soon will result in lawsuits costing the taxpayers time and money. You can regulate and restrict the area , that's fine, but act before the City ends up in court on some technicality.

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