State Attorney General Rejects Wakefield Ban on Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers

March 14, 2013 10:05 am

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ACLU of Massachusetts welcomes response to town’s move blocking access to use of medical marijuana approved by voters last November.

March 14, 2013

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BOSTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts welcomed today’s decision by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office to disapprove a Town of Wakefield ban on medical marijuana treatment centers.

Following approval of “An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana” (Question 3) by 63 percent of Massachusetts voters on November 6, 2012, Wakefield’s Fall Annual Town Meeting on November 15 voted to ban medical marijuana treatment centers from the town. The Attorney General’s Office has found that the measure conflicts with the law enacted by voters, and that if one municipality were allowed to opt out of state law, it would create an unworkable system in which “presumably all could do so.”

In February, the ACLU of Massachusetts wrote the Attorney General to urge disapproval of the Wakefield bylaw.

“The ACLU of Massachusetts supports the provision of medical marijuana as the voters overwhelmingly voted to do in passing Question 3. We are heartened that the Attorney General has disapproved Wakefield’s effort to totally ban medical marijuana treatment centers in that town,” said Sarah Wunsch, staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The purpose of Question 3 was to legalize medical marijuana and to create a statewide system of treatment centers making it available to patients with prescriptions from their treating physicians. Wakefield’s ban would thwart that purpose.”

At the same time, the Attorney General approved a temporary ban on medical marijuana treatment centers in Burlington until June 2014. “We can live with a temporary ban,” said Wunsch, “because it will give towns time to be guided by regulations to be issued by the state Department of Public Health.”

In a parallel move today, the Department of Public Health announced that draft regulations for the use of medical marijuana, prompted by passage of Question 3, will be issued on March 29. If the state Public Health Council approves them, the regulations will go into effect May 24.

For copies of the Attorney General’s letters to the towns of Wakefield and Burlington, go to:

For a copy of the ACLU of Massachusetts letter to the Attorney General, go to:

For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to:

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