As municipalities across Massachusetts await medical marijuana regulations from the State Department of Public Health, the Boston City Council is preparing the city the best it can for medical marijuana for January 1.
Boston has a 120-day window through city zoning regulations starting Jan. 1 to create new zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, but the state law states medical marijuana dispensaries can be opened on Jan. 1. The state law also says anyone who receives a prescription from their physician can then legally grow their own marijuana.
District 5 City Councilor Rob Consalvo, chair of the Committee on Public Safety, said the city is continuing to work on creating zoning to allow medical marijuana dispensaries. Consalvo has said medical marijuana dispensaries should go in medical areas where people get treatment. The Boston Redevelopment Authority recently created the language and definition of medical marijuana dispensaries, said Consalvo, during Wednesday's weekly Boston City Council meeting.
But District 2 City Councilor Bill Linehan issued his concerns about the new law. Said Linehan, "As of January 1, if your doctor gives you a note for marijuana you can grow marijuana yourself and use it. The police find it difficult to deal with. The State Department of Public Health are coming up with those regulations, and it doesn’t seem like those regulations will happen quickly."
Linehan said the council needs to keep an eye for medical marijuana dispensaries popping up in areas the eventual zoning code will not allow: residential areas, near schools, or daycare centers.
"There’s a lot of flaws and openings," said Linehan. "We need to stay right on top of this."
Consalvo said the matter will carry into the New Year, and there will be at least one more public hearing before any text amendment to Boston's zoning code moves forward.