The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that the state’s cannabis legalization law preempted Mansfield’s bylaws which required cannabis dispensaries in the town to operate as not-for-profits.
In 2018, dispensary owner Ellen Rosenfield converted her medical cannabis dispensary (started in 2017, prior to the state’s passage of the broad legalization law) to for-profit status. Neighboring businesses filed a lawsuit arguing that although state law had changed, the town’s bylaws remained the same.
The Massachusetts Judicial Supreme Court Ruling states: “The Legislature evinced its clear intent to allow for-profit entities to distribute medical marijuana. This legislative purpose cannot be achieved in the face of [Mansfield’s] by-law on the same subject.”
Rosenfield’s attorney, Jason Talerman of Mead, Talerman & Costa in Millis said, “the court is saying, ‘Let’s not throw up artificial barriers; let’s figure out how to manage it instead of just saying no.’”
The town argued that, when the law was passed, only medical cannabis dispensaries actively “engaged” in cannabis sales were allowed to convert to for-profit status and Rosenfield’s dispensary was still in start-up mode, and not “engaged” in sales, and therefore disqualified from converting its status.
The court ruled “engaged” means simply involved or occupied with and that “it hardly can be said that the plaintiffs were not ‘involved in’ and ‘occupied’ by the sale of marijuana, even though the dispensary is not yet operational.”
All seven Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court justices were appointed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker who opposed legalizing cannabis in dispensaries.