Lynnfield town meeting voters will likely be asked to approve a warrant article establishing a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.
The proposed moratorium would last until either July 1, 2014, or until the town enacts more permanent regulations based on guidelines expected to come from the state.
"This should give us a chance to review what the (Mass. Department of Public Health) regulations will be to write up a bylaw," explained Lynnfield Planning Board Secretary Kathy Randele.
Last week, Attorney General Martha Coakley's office announced that a medical marijuana bylaw in neighboring Wakefield was inconsistent with state law because it actually banned medical marijuana dispensaries in town.
Voters in Massachusetts, including Lynnfield, approved Question 3 on Election Night 2012, setting the stage for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate legally in the state.
In explaining last week's decision, Coakley noted that a town could not revise its zoning laws in order to basically block something that had been approved by the voters. In the same decision, the attorney general upheld a bylaw in Burlington imposing a moratorium because of its temporary nature. Burlington's medical marijuana moratorium expires on June 30, 2014.
“The temporary moratorium is consistent with the Town’s authority to impose reasonable time limitations on development while it conducts planning studies and considers the implication of state Department of Public Health regulations concerning such centers, which are expected to be issued in May 2013,” wrote Coakley last week in regard to the Wakefield medical marijuana bylaw.
Back in Lynnfield, Randele recalled how nearly two decades ago, the town had to pass a bylaw establishing where adult entertainment businesses can operate.
There are no adult entertainment businesses currently operating in Lynnfield - but if one was to open, Randele reported that it would have to be at least 400 feet away from the boundary of a residential zone. Under this bylaw, said Randele, not even Lynnfield's portion of Route 1 appears to be permissible for an adult entertainment business. In fact, one of the very few places in town that would meet this criteria may be some of the Kimball Lane office park area. With these things in mind, a future medical marijuana bylaw could at least in theory look somewhat like the adult business bylaw, noted Randele. However, Lynnfield and other towns are still largely waiting for the expected guidance from the state and from local voters before proceeding much further.
Editor's Note: The full text of the warrant article is attached to this article as a PDF file.