As New York debates legalizing recreational marijuana, groups in Massachusetts are proposing location sites after voters in the state opened the door for medical use of the drug in 2012. So far at least two groups are looking to site a dispensary in the county’s largest city, Pittsfield.
Julia Germaine, Director of Resources for Manna Wellness, speaks to the Pittsfield City Council about including a letter of non-opposition from the city in it's Phase 2 application process for a medical marijuana dispensary through the state's Department of Public Health.
Voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana in 2012. But many local communities are putting temporary bans in place as the deadline for final applications for state licensed marijuana treatment centers approaches.
About a third of the state’s 351 cities and towns have put in place moratoriums on medical marijuana treatment centers, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. Springfield is the largest city in the state to adopt a moratorium. It was approved by the city council Monday night.
Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004, and the first medical marijuana dispensaries opened this summer. But a proposed ordinance in the Vermont town of Weathersfield would ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating, as well as businesses that sell tobacco-related paraphernalia.
Under the ballot measure approved by Massachusetts voters legalizing medical marijuana last year, up to 35 licenses for dispensaries could be opened across the state. The state Department of Public Health revealed its final regulations for the distribution of the drug in May, and Pittsfield has been one of many localities working to change zoning regulations to accommodate the arrival of the dispensaries.
One-third of Americans now reside in a state where medical marijuana is legal. Lawmakers in Albany are considering a bill that would create a state-regulated medical marijuana program allowing seriously ill patients to have access to the drug under the supervision of a healthcare practicioner. Mental health and treatment professionals participated in a conference call to discuss the issue today.
Advocates say more than 600 doctors from across the state have pledged support to end criminalizing patients who use medical marijuana under professional supervision.