1,000-Foot Buffer Rule Could Lead to Federal Action in MA

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Legal marijuana dispensaries face potential prosecution if a U.S. attorney enforces federal guidelines banning marijuana businesses from opening within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds or public housing.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said dispensaries may face prosecution and asset forfeiture if they open too close to a school even if they’re allowed under state and local regulations, according to the Boston Globe.

At least six Massachusetts dispensaries fall into that category, the Globe reported.

Last year, the Justice Department guided federal prosecutors via the Cole Memo that enforcement should be left to local authorities, but said preventing children from getting marijuana remains a federal priority, the Globe said.

Vanderbilt University law professor Robert Mikos said most states have taken the Justice Department advisory to heart and incorporated the 1,000-foot setback into their licensing process, the newspaper said. In Massachusetts, however, dispensaries must be 500 feet from schools, day-cares or facilities where children frequently congregate.

According to the Globe, Patriot Care Corp., which won conditional approval for a marijuana dispensary in Boston, Greenfield and Lowell, has dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools in Boston and Greenfield.

Dennis Kunian of Patriot Care said the company has not had contact with government officials, but “would cooperate fully” with authorities if the law is implemented.