The Boston City Council on Wednesday will begin its discussion of how Boston will handle the legalization of medical marijuana.
"We respect the will of voters," said District 5 City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who filed an order to hold the necessary hearing. "In the first year alone 35 dispensaries are to open up (in Massachusetts), and it's unlimited after that."
Consalvo said he is guessing that Boston will start with four dispensaries due to it having 10 percent of the state's population. He said he was unaware of whether there is a difference between medical dispensaries and growing facilities, but that will be discussed at the hearing.
An unlike several Massachusetts municipalities, such as , Boston is looking to create zoning laws to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.
"There’s nothing in the zoning code that regulates stores that sell medical marijuana because it’s a new phenomenon," said Consalvo. "Whether you’re for or against it – it’s coming."
"We don’t just open restaurants, or adult entertainment stores anywhere..." said Consalvo.
Consalvo said he would like to see the dispensaries near hospitals because if someone is getting specific treatment for an illness, it would make sense to have a "one-stop shop" for getting care.
He said he'd like to not have them in residential neighborhoods, near schools or daycare: "We don't put businesses in residential neighborhoods." He said he doesn't want them in the Boston Main Streets districts, including commercial districts like Roslindale Village or Downtown Crossing.
Wednesday's meeting is the first, and it will be followed quickly with others to create zoning laws by Jan. 1. Several organizations will be involved in the process, including the Boston Redevelopment Authority for zoning regulations, Boston Police Department on how to regulate dispensaries, the Boston Public Health Commission and state Department of Public Health.
Changing Boston's zoning laws is not uncommon; for example, Roslindale and Hyde Park overhauled their neighborhood laws in recent years to update from antiquated 1950s zoning regulations.
The new zoning laws need to pass the City Council, the Zoning Commission and then the BRA Board.
As for feedback from constituents, Consalvo said it's all been positive: "I think people are appreciative we’re getting it to regulate it appropriately."