Following the approval of Question 3 legalizing medical marijuana in the state, a city councilor has filed an order to hold a hearing on zoning regulations to govern dispensaries in Boston.
The new law allows people with debilitating medical conditions and permission from their doctors to buy marijuana from state-sanctioned distribution centers, beginning next year.
Massachusetts could see up to 35 treatment centers throughout the state, according to the order filed by City Councilor Rob Consalvo, but it is not immediately known how many dispensaries would be allowed in Boston.
“Our zoning code doesn’t have any kind of provisions for this kind of use,” said Consalvo. “Boston needs to be prepared. We need to be thorough and responsible where these stores are located.”
John M. Guilfoil, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, said: “This is certainly an issue not to be taken lightly. The mayor will be consulting with several city agencies, including public health and Boston police, as we go forward on how best to handle the brand new issue of medical marijuana in Massachusetts.”
The City Council is expected to meet on the issue Nov. 28, along with representatives from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the state Department of Public Health, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston police, and the Department of Neighborhood Development, where discussions of possible locations for the centers will be held.
“I don’t believe they should be zoned in residential areas,” said Consalvo. “I don’t believe they should be in local business districts.
“Clearly, they should be away from schools and day-care centers where there are kids. Maybe we get creative and zone them where hospitals are. I think anything should be on the table.”
The treatment centers would be allowed to grow, process, and provide up to a 60-day supply of marijuana to patients, according to Consalvo’s order. The DPH would have the authority to regulate the amount that constitutes as a 60-day supply as well as the right to revoke registrations of treatment centers and qualifying patients if they are to violate the law.
The process of rezoning and preparing for the centers is a lengthy one. The council will vote on the issue, and public hearings will also be held by the council, the BRA, and the zoning commission, according to Consalvo. A text amendment must also be enacted.
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