March 24, 2016

Boston City Council Admits To Violating Open Meeting Law While Passing Anti-Medical Marijuana Measure

March 24, 2016
boston city council marijuana
boston city council marijuana
(image via Wikipedia)

When laws are passed, there is a protocol that must be followed in order to ensure transparency. The City of Boston has an Open Meeting Law in place so that citizens can know what changes are being proposed, and have the opportunity to provide public comment. A certain amount of notice has to be given to allow for that process to play out. The City of Boston hastily passed an anti-medical marijuana bill in an attempt to limit the number of medical marijuana outlets that would populate the city. The Boston City Council recently passed a ‘buffer-zone’ ordinance that prevents medical marijuana dispensaries from being located near each other.

But the City Council failed to follow the Open Meeting Law, and was called out for it by the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance. Per the Boston Globe:

The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance accused the council of violating the law by failing to provide 48 hours’ public notice before voting earlier this month on buffer zones for marijuana dispensaries.

The city said it was an honest mistake. A typographical error led to the wrong item being copied onto the printed agenda that was circulated to councilors, the city’s letter states. The city clerk discovered the mistake about 90 minutes after the agenda was posted and corrected the online version, the letter said.

“Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the mistake means that this item was not noticed for 48 hours as required by law,” states the letter from Adam Cederbaum, of the Law Department.

What the advocates are calling for is a nullification of the previous vote, that proper notice be re-issued, and that a re-vote occur after public comments are heard. To me that seems like a fair thing to do since a law was broken during the last vote, and the City Council even admits to it. However, the Boston City Council has instead proposed that groups be allowed to sign up on a list to be alerted to any other future opportunities to provide public comments. I think it’s a safe bet to now sit and hold your breath for this potential ‘next opportunity’ considering the measure was already passed.


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