On Remand: Cantor, Municipal Zoning Regulation and Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

By citizen’s petition at the November 2012 state election, Massachusetts voters approved The Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana Act (the “Medical Marijuana Act”) authorizing the medical use of marijuana in the Commonwealth. Regulations promulgated by the state Department of Public Health (“DPH”) require persons and entities operating under the Medical Marijuana Act to “comply with all local rules, regulations, ordinances, and bylaws,” among numerous other provisions. Given that Massachusetts has 351 cities and towns functioning under Home Rule authority and decentralized zoning, a wide range of municipal responses to the Medical Marijuana Act and DPH Regulations have emerged. Some municipalities have taken a completely hands-off approach, declining to specifically regulate the medical use of marijuana as a matter of land use control; others have sought to erect barricades, attempting to shut out all such use. While this local control presents challenges to proponents seeking to locate medical marijuana treatment facilities (as it does to developers in general), it exemplifies Massachusetts’ traditional zoning practice—unless a local bylaw or ordinance directly conflicts with state law, it will be upheld under the dual principles of home rule and decentralized zoning.

This Article will address some of the municipal responses to the Medical Marijuana Act and DPH Regulations in the context of the particulars of Massachusetts home rule and zoning law.

Read more from the most recent On Remand article, Municipal Zoning Regulation and Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts by Patricia A. Cantor, Esq., here.

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