City councilors this morning began a formal discussion on how to allow the medical-marijuana dispensaries approved by voters last month while letting neighborhoods have a say on specific locations.
The law approved by voters would allow up to five dispensaries in a county.
City Councilor Bill Linehan, who represents South Boston and the South End, said he understands the need for medical marijuana and that he understands medical-marijuana use doesn't lead to substance abuse, but said his district already suffers crime and other problems from methadone clinics - and already has more than its fair share of other medical facilities:
"This is not the only place they should be located in the city of Boston," he said at the hearing, called by City Councilor Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan), who did not express an opinion about dispensaries in his district.
Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said no dispensary can open in the state until the state Department of Public Health issues its own regulations, possibly by next April or May. She said she understands Linehan's concern about having dispensaries packed in one area.
However, she said that effective Jan. 1, any patient who gets a prescription from a doctor can begin growing marijuana for personal use - and that eventually people who care for sick people who need marijuana will be able to
The Boston Zoning Commission holds a hearing Jan. 16 to being considering specific zoning definitions and restrictions for dispensaries.
Boston Police commanders at the hearing said they have begun to prepare for an increase in property and even violent crime that evidence from other states suggest accompanies dispensaries and individuals using marijuana.
Jonathan Napoli, who owns a hydroponics supply shop in Dudley Square, says he wants to open a dispensary there. Besides serving people who could benefit from marijuana, the store would provide a much needed economic boost to Dudley Square. He estimates that a dispensary could mean 20 new jobs.
However, one Dudley Square resident said the area is similar to South Boston - it already has more than enough methadone clinics and crime.