MA attorney general reverses ruling that allowed cities to ban medical cannabis firms

Ranks of women, minority cannabis execs rebound to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report. Get your copy here.

Medical marijuana businesses in Massachusetts may have one fewer headache after state Attorney General Maura Healey reversed an earlier decision that allowed municipalities to prohibit MMJ dispensaries.

Here are the basics behind the situation:

  • According to CommonWealth magazine, Massachusetts passed a medical marijuana law in 2012 that included a provision prohibiting cities and towns from banning MMJ dispensaries. But in 2016, voters passed a recreational marijuana law that included a provision that some local governments interpreted as allowing them to ban both recreational marijuana stores and MMJ dispensaries.
  • Margaret Hurley, head of the Municipal Law Unit in the AG’s office, had approved warrants from Bellingham and Northborough that banned both adult-use cannabis retail stores and future medical marijuana dispensaries in those towns, the magazine reported.
  • CommonWealth also noted that the attorney general’s office initially agreed with the interpretation, but the decision was reversed late last week.

“Upon further review, we now determine that this approval was given in error,” Hurley wrote in a letter to local government officials in Bellingham.

A similar letter went to officials in Northborough, which had passed its own measure prohibiting MMJ dispensaries.

Hurley told town officials they “should strongly consider not enforcing the ban,” according to CommonWealth.

The attorney general cited a 2013 decision by previous Attorney General Martha Coakley prohibiting another town, Wakefield, from banning dispensaries.