IN THE wake of the legalization of medical marijuana in Massachusetts, cities and towns are rushing to change their zoning regulations, worrying that a marijuana dispensary would create an undesirable atmosphere in their communities. Some of these local regulations make good sense, such as a Malden proposal to allow dispenseries in areas zoned for medical uses. But others could have the unintended consequence of pushing the dispensaries into little-visited corners of the state, where they might actually be more susceptible to after-hours theft and other crimes.
The new law, which voters approved by a 63-37 margin in a statewide referendum, allows for 35 centers across the state where marijuana can be grown and dispensed; the law calls for at least one, but no more than five, in any single county. Those facilities must be approved by the state Department of Public Health, which will oversee their operation.