By Dan Adams and Alex Gailey Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent  June 27, 2018

Under sharp criticism from marijuana advocates, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey defended her decision to allow some municipalities to delay marijuana businesses until next summer without holding a communitywide vote, insisting it won’t lead to widespread prohibitions by communities across the state.

Healey, who opposed the 2016 ballot initiative legalizing marijuana, ruled Friday that Mansfield could extend a temporary moratorium on permitting marijuana operations through June 2019. That appeared to contradict a previous ruling in which her office said any local freezes beyond Dec. 31 of this year were longer than is reasonably necessary and could be viewed as unconstitutional.

In May, Town Meeting in Mansfield approved two new zoning districts for marijuana businesses — one for companies that grow pot, one for those that sell it — and an extension of a moratorium on licensing such businesses until June 2019. Healey said she authorized the extension to give Mansfield time to review new regulations and decide whether any further local changes were necessary, which would have to be approved by its next Town Meeting in spring, 2019.


“I remain as committed as ever to helping implement the marijuana legalization law as quickly and safely as possible,” Healey said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s important that people not see this as a statewide moratorium.”

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Acceding to requests from advocates and lawyers for pot applicants, Healey released a detailed legal justification of the Mansfield moratorium, and her aides said they would also meet with marijuana proponents to clarify the ruling, which prompted an intense backlash.

“We’re grateful for the further clarity,

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