Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone is asking that the Somerville Board of Aldermen approve a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries through June 30, 2014, giving officials time to review both state regulations approved in May and Somerville’s own zoning bylaws to ensure the city will adequately address and comply with the new law.
The Massachusetts Public Health Council’s 52 pages of medical marijuana regulations went into effect on May 24, following the legalization of medical marijuana in the November 2012 election. The state law allows a maximum of 35 nonprofit dispensaries in Massachusetts, including at least one and no more than five in a county.
Attorney General Martha Coakley has ruled that cities and towns may impose moratoriums to provide officials time to study and adopt measures to control development of new uses, such as medical marijuana dispensaries.
A moratorium in Somerville would provide time for the city’s Legal Department to carefully study the new state regulations and time for the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development and the Health Department to review the city’s current ordinances to ensure they adequately address this new use.
“Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of medical marijuana with 63 percent of the vote last November, and I will honor the decision of the voters,” Mayor Curtatone said. “As with any new use or business in the city, we want to be diligent, thoughtful and educated before making any decisions.”