State legal opinion challenges Medford's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries

A legislative legal committee has determined Medford's attempt to ban medical marijuana dispensaries violates the spirit of two recent laws.

The five-page opinion prepared for Rep. Peter Buckley finds that state law pre-empts local law.

The legal opinion, sent Nov. 5, states that medical marijuana dispensaries will be protected by Senate Bill 863 and House Bill 3460.

SB 863 gives the state the authority to regulate agricultural crops and businesses while HB 3460 allows for the creation of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

"Finally, we conclude that while a municipality may not be required to violate federal law to comply with a conflicting state law, a municipality may not act contrary to state law merely because the municipality believes that the action will better carry out the purposes and objectives of federal law," the opinion stated.

The Medford City Council enacted an ordinance in September that would effectively ban medical marijuana dispensaries based on federal law. The council acted to head off the rolling out of dispensaries after March 2014.

— Damian Mann

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