Massachusetts U.S, Attorney Carmen Ortiz says her office is debating whether or not to weigh in on how close Massachusetts dispensaries can be to schools and considering shutting down shops within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds our housing.
According to the Boston Globe, six of the 15 dispensary proposals given initial go-ahead from state officials would fall within the 1,000 feet radius.
“It raises important questions, and we’re going to have to take them into consideration,” Ortiz’s spokeswoman, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, told the Globe. “We are looking into it. We need to assess it and have some internal discussions, and we will have a decision soon.”
Though the U.S. Justice Department has said that prosecutors should allow states to police legalize marijuana on their own, the government has taken a stance in other states when it comes to pot shops close to schools. Colorado dispensaries received letters in January 2012 from U.S. Attorney John Walsh telling them to either move or shut down altogether because they were too close to schools. State law also prohibited the stores from being within 1,000 feet of schools, but many of the shops were grandfathered into their locations because they started before the state rules were in place. But the letters from the U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t order them to cease business and many of the dispensaries simply moved locations and are still operating today.
Massachusetts law allows for dispensaries to be within 500 feet of schools, parks and day-care centers and even allows cities and towns to adopt rules that put pot shops even closer. Arguably, they set themselves up for the situation with that alone.
But the recent murmurings from Ortiz’s office stems from one complaint from a Brookline psychiatrist angry that the proposed New England Treatment Access will be opening their doors with two schools, three playgrounds and public housing all within 1,000 feet.