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Wayland Planning Board Defers Decision on Medical Marijuana Bylaw

Discussions continue regarding where and whether to allow medical marijuana treatment centers in Wayland.

The Wayland Planning Board deferred taking a vote on recommending a proposed amendment to Wayland's zoning bylaw that would address medical marijuana treatment centers in town.

Instead of making a decision Tuesday, the board decided to leave the conversation open, with a placeholder article in the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, pending some additional guidance on the issue from the attorney general's office.

The bylaw change that the Planning Board is considering would both define "medical marijuana treatment center" and restrict those centers to either the municipal services overlay district, the 7.5 to 8 acres on Route 20 at the site of the old septage facility, or the town's only parcel of land zoned light manufacturing, which is a strip located directly west of Wayland Depot and behind Wayland Power.

Planning Board Chairman Kent Greenawalt said the discussion was designed to prepare the town for a response should one become necessary.

In an email opinion, Town Counsel Mark Lanza explained that medical marijuana dispensaries are not addressed as a principal use anywhere in Wayland's zoning bylaw and would therefore not be permitted under the current bylaw. Additionally, Lanza wrote, there is no precedent for them to be associated with an existing principal use, so they would likely not be considered permissible as an accessory use either.

A concern, however, is that prohibiting medical marijuana treatment centers everywhere within a municipality may not be defensible. With that in mind, the proposed zoning bylaw amendment does set aside a place where they are legal, even if the location isn't particularly desirable from a business owner's standpoint, Greenawalt explained.

"There’s much uncertainty about how this will play out in Massachusetts," said Heidi Heilman, a Wayland resident who has studied the issue extensively as part of her efforts to defeat the legislation and now influence its implementation. "One of the options that Wayland could do is put a moratorium on a bylaw on any sort of dispensary coming in until regulations are fully in place."

Heilman told board members that there are numerous discussions currently taking place on the state level regarding how to implement the medical marijuana law that went into effect on Jan. 1.

A Weston resident attending the meeting spoke up to say that he found it unlikely that one of the 35 centers allowed by the law would be constructed in Wayland, so the Planning Board's discussion could be premature.

The board unanimously voted to keep the placeholder article in place for now, hoping more guidance from the state becomes available before Town Meeting. The public hearing was continued to February.

FlyingTooLow January 11, 2013 at 01:40 PM
The articles coming out of the 'medicinal marijuana' states seem to involve 'pissing contests.' It is one petty bureaucracy against another...with no progress...just arguments. If marijuana were treated like lettuce and tomatoes, that would end. After all, it is plant. Take the government out of the equation. It does not belong.
FlyingTooLow January 11, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Our nation was founded upon freedom of the individual. Each of our citizens was guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness...so long as he brings no harm to his fellow citizens or their property. When did this change? I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for a marijuana offense. And I am as harmless as a Beagle puppy. I wrote about the escapades that led to my 'extended vacation'...my book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank I would be honored by your review.
FlyingTooLow January 11, 2013 at 01:41 PM
"...the essence of tyranny is the enforcement of stupid laws,” ---Edmund Burke
JRZ January 11, 2013 at 02:26 PM
It's pretty offensive to me that the town is playing zoning shenanigans to, in effect, prohibit a dispensary. Just because it wasn't named in existing zoning does not disallow it. It's a medical dispensary, and should be treated as any pharmacy. Wayland can't do an end-run around the laws.
Geoff January 12, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Well said JRZ.

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