Stoughton Selectmen Ask Legislators for Delay in Implementing Medical Marijuana Law

Stoughton Selectmen, following the lead of the Walpole Board of Selectmen, want more time to deal with the implementation of the medical marijuana law, passed statewide in this November's election.

With the medical marijuana law set to go effect Jan. 1, 2013, Stoughton Selectmen, following the lead of their counterparts in Walpole, voted Tuesday night to send a letter to Stoughton's State House delegation asking for a delay in implementing the law, giving local communities more time to prepare for potential zoning issues.

The medical marijuana ballot initiative (Question 3) passed statewide in this November’s Presidential Election, with 63 percent of Massachusetts voters supporting it.

Only two communities statewide - Mendon and Lawrence - voted against Question 3. Stoughton voters favored it 60% to 40%.

“This proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients,” according to the Secretary of State’s website. “It allows patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use.”

“The proposed law would allow for [up to 35] non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers to grow, process and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers,” according to the Secretary of State’s website.

These marijuana dispensaries are of particular concern to local communities. Stoughton Board of Selectmen Chair John Stagnone said the letter would ask legislators to hold off implementing the law until towns have a chance to deal with zoning issues surrounding these dispensaries.

As part of its consent agenda, Stoughton Selectmen unanimously voted Dec. 4 to draft a letter similar to the one Walpole sent its state house delegation. Stoughton's State House delegation consists of State Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton) and State Representatives Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton) and William C. Galvin (D-Canton).

The Walpole letter, dated November 27, 2012, reads in part:

The possibility of individuals or firms seeking locations for marijuana "dispensaries" in Walpole or any other Town is of great concern. We are simply not prepared for such a development, and there is no way we can be prepared in that short amount of time. We understand that applications to the DPH can not be filed until the Department of Public Health promulgates their regulations, however the need for a community to address its zoning needs is critical, yet time consuming. What we are not sure of is whether a building or occupancy permit can be submitted to Walpole or any other City or Town after January 1st but before the DPH regulations are promulgated thereby by-passing potential Spring Town Meeting Zoning. We obviously want to avoid this occurring. 

Like Stoughton, Walpole has a spring Town Meeting. Stoughton's Annual Town Meeting begins May 6, 2013.

The Walpole letter points out it is "doubtful" that town could "pull together new zoning...let alone schedule and hold a special Town Meeting (at a cost of several thousand dollars)" before the law goes into effect.

Thus, Walpole asked its state house delegation to support an effort "that would delay the effective date of Question #3."

Wrentham's Board of Selectmen also recently voted to draft a version of the Walpole letter to send to its state house delegation.

Weedbay Guy December 07, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Whatever the expected delay requested for the state to implement the medical marijuana program should also apply to the delay in these counsel members next paycheck. Medical marijuana is an over-the-counter medication, therefore it's subject to being taxed. The not for profit status of the organization has nothing to do with it.
DJ December 07, 2012 at 01:58 AM
The problem with the initiative question is that it was too wordy; drafting policy around non profit production and distribution. IMHO, if this is truly "medical" marijuana, then it should be distributed by a pharmacist behind the counter and not by an independent or specialized "non profit" who is also required to be the developer/grower. What other "drug" has the restriction for development and distribution tied into each other? Doesn't this have the potential to monopolize the market?
Marijuana Policy Initiative December 09, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Talk about Draconian.. Cigaretts were once promoted as medicine, too. And popular culture touted it as cool and benign - remember the Marlboro Man who died of lung cancer? Pop stars made millions endorsing cigarette products for tobacco companies. And they'll make millions doing that with marijuana now. How is this any different than the tobacco movement? Well, for one, cigarettes don't put an individual in an altered state of mind, like pot does - promising immediate gratification from reality - so we'll see increased use among youth far beyond that of cigaretts. More kids already smoke pot than cigarettes in MA, but the public doesn't seem to care, or connect the dots. It's worth noting, you can't get in a car crash from smoking a cigarette while driving like you can while high on pot. Pro pot propaganda has won the country over. And public health and safety in this nation will pay big dollars for the fall-out. Pot is NOT benign - THC levels in pot continue to soar through advanced growing technologies. If you were once a pot smoker before 2000, go try the medi-pot their selling now and see what it's like - eat a pot brownie at your nearest dispensary. Look out Massachusetts, you don't like the taxes you pay now? Well the pot industry is going to make that much worse whether it's taxed or not. We'll all be paying for the increased health and safety costs it'll bring on. And good luck educating the next generation....
Walt December 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM
At first it seems strange that local zoning laws cannot be written and adopted within a year. But then again we are talking about local municipalities that can accomplish very little within a year. The Selectmen of Stoughton and Walpole seem to be trying to find reasons not to do their job. The AG allowed more than a year (until June 30, 2014) to write and adopt new zoning laws. It is actually 18 months since the law went into effect on January 1, 2013. The initiative question was not too wordy to write nearly 30 pages of very restrictive and well thought out regulations. "Medical" Marijuana, and I stress "medical", is taxed at both the state and local levels. And the dispensaries must pay local property taxes. Indeed, the AG requires that an RMD (Registered Marijuana Dispensary) be a nonprofit, but it cannot be a 501.(c)(3) which is tax exempt. Marijuana in not tobacco and has already been proven to contain medical properties that are able to treat different types of diseases based on different types off marijuana plant. getting "high" is not the sole purpose of "medical marijuana. Please visit http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/ Now that the Internet is available I wish that all of us would do our research before trying to make points which ultimately turn out to be not true or not based on facts.


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