NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - It's been almost a year since Massachusetts voters approved the use of medical marijuana, and some cities and towns are delaying the process to open a dispensary.
Springfield is the largest city in the Commonwealth with a moratorium, or a period of delay before opening a dispensary. One Hampshire County town has also taken steps to delay the process.
“I voted yeah, that was pretty much the only thing I voted seriously in,” said Max Childs of Westhampton.
Childs was among the 65% of Massachusetts voters who supported the medical use of marijuana last November.
“In certain circumstances it is one of the things that really helps people. I know they prescribe a lot with people who have glaucoma and my mom has glaucoma. So I think it should be available,” said Ashley Novak of Easthampton.
However, almost a year after the passing of the law; one-third of the state’s 351 cities and towns have instituted delays. Just west of Northampton, Williamsburg's administrator says the town needs more time to plan. Northampton Attorney Dick Evans told 22News these dispensaries will be tightly regulated from seed to sale.
“I don't know how much more control a community needs to impose. And I think some communities are starting to rethink the wisdom of rushing to prohibit or at least forestall the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries,” said Evans on Wednesday.
Under the law, one but no more than five dispensaries will be allowed in each of the state's 14 counties. More than 180 non-profits submitted initial applications. Those who make it to the next round will have to prove that they’ll comply with town bylaws, which could keep dispensaries away from downtown areas, schools, and playgrounds.
“I think to some degree that might make a good amount of sense. Because most of us are used to it being listed as illegal as a street drug,” said Sara McConnell of Pittsfield.
California resident Chris Hogoboom disagrees. “I don't think they should be hidden. I think it should be out and legal,” said Hogoboom.
State officials say dispensaries should be registered to operate by January of next year. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government would no longer interfere in how individual states deal with medical marijuana laws.