By Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts communities and state regulators are preparing for the new medical marijuana law that goes into effect Jan. 1.

In November, state voters overwhelmingly approved the measure to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The state Department of Public Health has until May 1 to issue regulations.

Some communities, including Wakefield and Reading, have rushed to amend their zoning bylaws to ban marijuana dispensaries in their towns.

Opponents of the law are concerned that the dispensaries will be ripe for abuse and could attract a criminal element.

But the health department says it will issue strict regulations to guard against abuses.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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