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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Boston Will Need New Zoning

While officials don't know how many facilities the city will get yet, it's clear Boston will get some.

Massachusetts voters spoke loud and clearly on Election Day by overwhelmingly supporting the legalization of medical marijuana starting January 1.

Now, Boston has to figure out where the medical marijuana dispensaries will be within the city.  

District 5 City Councilor Rob Consalvo led the charge at Wednesday's Boston City Council meeting, saying while they don't know how many facilities the city will get yet, it's clear Boston will get some. 

"I’m proposing what we do regularly - update our zoning code," Consalvo said. "This will be my seventh effort of amending the zoning code. Clearly this is a new use and a new change in front of us." 

But first the state needs to provide regulations, "We don’t know how the state regulations will take place, we are waiting for the Department of Health to have those new regulations in the New Year," Consalvo added. 

The matter was moved to the Committee on Government Operations, for the code to be developed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, while working with the state and city's health departments, the Boston Police, as well as residents. A hearing is expected to be held in the next 10 days to develop the zoning changes.

Consalvo said there is nothing in the current zoning code that addresses medical marijuana facilities. Issues such as what stores will look like, how medical marijuana will be sold, and more need to addressed.

Due to it being medicinal marijuana, Consalvo suggested dispensaries should be zoned into hospital areas, to make it a one-stop shop for patients. He added dispensaries should not go in residential neighborhoods, parks or playgrounds, near schools or daycare facilities.

"Without anything in place they could open up anywhere and we’ll get lots of calls. We need to move fast and be ahead of the curve," said Consalvo.

He called for a hearing to be held in the next 10 days to get to work on the issue.

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