Quincy city councilors approved a medical marijuana ordinance at their meeting Monday night, becoming one of a handful of municipalities to develop laws around the newly legalized use of the drug.
“I think it’s an excellent start, considering where we are in time with this new law,” said City Solicitor Jim Timmins.
Under the new local law, Quincy will bar marijuana dispensaries from being within 1,500 feet of a residential district, school, other marijuana center, or other city-licensed facility, such as a bar.
Cultivation of medical marijuana must take place on the same premise as the dispensary, and anyone allowed to grow medical marijuana must register with the city.
Permitting requirements, as well as inspection criteria, are outlined in the new rules.
“We’ve covered everything we could as far as what we know right now,” Timmins said, noting that the document is likely to evolve.
Councilors approved the rules unanimously, but paused to discuss a provision that could ultimately bar dispensaries from opening in the city.
According to the ordinance, if any of the city’s laws conflicts with federal or state guidelines, the stricter provision would prevail. Federal law still outlaws medical marijuana, and would therefore prohibit access to the drug in the city.
Timmins said that federal legislators have been silent about the issue, but that the provision adequately protects the city, shifting the liability onto the cultivator or seller of the drug.
“It’s one we wanted to mix in this issue, but I don’t want a local official enforcing federal laws when the feds aren’t,” Timmins said.
Quincy has been working to put together guidelines for medical marijuana dispensaries since Massachusetts approved medical marijuana by ballot vote in November.
The state, too, has been scrambling to create marijuana laws since then, and only recently approving them in June.
The city's laws will take effect immediately, but won’t mean much until the moratorium on medical marijuana facilities lifts in several months.
Though the moratorium gave the city some time in developing these guidelines, City Councilor Brian Palmucci has noted the importance of having regulations on the books as soon as possible.
“I think it's important to give folks as much notice as possible as to where we will allow these things,” Palmucci said in an earlier interview. “They are on notice to what Quincy’s standards will be in terms of regulating med marijuana.”
Already cultivators and sellers seem to be coming to the city. Councilor Margaret Laforest noted that a group called Grassroots 420 has set up offices in Quincy Center to give educational seminars to potential operators.