Applicants & Licensees / Bylaws and Ordinances
Bylaws and Ordinances
Learn more about the various bylaws and ordinances that municipalities can enact to govern or limit Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MTCs) and Marijuana Establishments (MEs) in their communities.
Massachusetts law allows—but does not require—municipalities to pass bylaws and ordinances governing the time, place, and manner of MTCs and MEs, including cultivators, retailers, manufacturers, testing labs, and businesses dealing with marijuana accessories.
These bylaws and ordinances may not be “unreasonably impracticable,” meaning that local laws cannot be made so difficult to comply with that they would subject licensees to unreasonable risk, or require such a high investment of risk, money, time or any other resource or asset, that a reasonably prudent business person would not operate an ME.
Alternatively, a municipality may determine a proposed marijuana-related use falls under an existing use authorized by its bylaws or ordinances.
A municipality cannot prohibit conversion of a facility from medical to adult use.
Zoning bylaws or ordinances are not permitted to operate to prevent the conversion of a MTC licensed or registered not later than July 1, 2017 that is engaged in the cultivation, manufacture or sale of marijuana or marijuana products to an ME for adult use engaged in the same type of activity.
A municipality may restrict the number of Marijuana Establishments in its locality.
A municipality may pass a bylaw or ordinance limiting the number of MEs to 20% or more of the number of liquor licenses issued pursuant to G.L. c.138 §15 (commonly known as “package stores”) in the municipality.
For example, if a municipality has 100 liquor licenses, the municipality may set a maximum limit of 20 MEs. If a municipality seeks to ban MEs, limit the percentage to fewer than 20% of granted liquor licenses, or seeks to limit the number of MEs to fewer than the number of MTCs in its locality, the municipality must submit that question to the people of the municipality at a regular or special election, according to the process laid out in Section 25 of Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017.
If a municipality adopts a general bylaw or ordinance limiting the number of MEs in its community, and that amount is less than the MTCs within that community, the municipality must determine which MTCs will be permitted to proceed to the application process for adult use by executing a Host Community Agreement with those MTCs.
MEs may not be within 500 feet of a school.
Any type of ME may not be located within 500 feet of a pre-existing public or private school providing education in kindergarten or any of grades one through 12. Municipalities may adopt an ordinance or bylaw to reduce that distance requirement.
Municipalities may set their own local siting requirements. If they do not, the default buffer zone of 500 feet applies.
A municipality may regulate, by bylaw or ordinance, signage regarding marijuana-related uses.
However, the ordinance or bylaw may not impose a standard more restrictive than those applied to retail establishments selling alcoholic beverages within the municipality.
A municipality cannot prohibit the transportation of marijuana or marijuana products through its locality.
Cities and towns also cannot adopt ordinances or by-laws that make the transportation of marijuana or marijuana products unreasonably impracticable.
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