Medical marijuana dispensaries are coming to Massachusetts. Whether they’re coming to Wilmington remains to be seen.
After the ballot question legalizing medical marijuana passed in Massachusetts with 63 percent voter support earlier this month, towns are scrambling to find out just what impact the law will have at a local level.
Just over the Wilmington border in Reading, voters have already spoken. At Town Meeting last week, Reading residents voted by a 113-39 margin to approve a zoning article that would prohibit a medical marijuana dispensary from opening in town.
Wilmington Town Manager Jeff Hull said town officials are at the beginning stages of researching whether or not voters could be asked to make a similar decision at this spring’s Town Meeting.
“It’s on our radar screen,” said Hull. “It’s certainly possible that it’s something that could come up at Town Meeting, but we haven’t fully looked into it yet.”
Hull has asked Planning Director Carole Hamilton to look into the zoning issues related to the subject, and see what the town’s options are. The Town Manager said local officials are still waiting to see what regulations the state will provide before proceeding either way.
In Reading, proponents of banning marijuana facilities argued that the possession, distribution and cultivation of marijuana violate federal law, and said that a treatment center would draw transient traffic and become a target for robbery.
The impact a facility would have on the Wilmington Police Department is something Hull said still needs to be determined.
“The potential negative of having a facility in town would be the possibility of abuse,” said Hull. “The positives, I guess there is the prospect that there are individuals who may need it for medical purposes. I am a little skeptical quite honestly, but there is still more information that we need to gather.”
Hull said the town will research the topic for the next several months, and will address it at Town Meeting if needed.
“It’s just going to take some time to find out what regulations the state puts out that will accompany the law. That’ll set the parameter for how we operate,” said Hull. “It’s going to be a matter of assessing the impacts of enforcement and trying to reach some kind of place where we’re following the law as it was voted, but maintaining control that we need to have on the dispensing areas. It’s not insurmountable, but it’ll take time to assess.”