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Norwood police chief wants no money from pot

A marijuana plant flowering outdoors.

Shutterstock / Yarygin

A marijuana plant flowering outdoors.

Norwood Police Chief William G. Brooks III says he thinks welcoming a medical marijuana dispensary to his town is a mistake, and if Norwood’s selectmen choose to do it, he does not want any revenue from the operation to go to his department.

“If the town does sign a host agreement and receive revenue from the marijuana industry, I respectfully request that the Norwood Police Department not receive a share. I could not in good conscience accept it,” Brooks wrote to the Board of Selectmen recently.

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He reiterated his concerns to the selectmen at their meeting Tuesday night, before they voted to support one of two proposals from companies seeking to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Norwood. A third firm had previously received a letter of support from the town and may still locate there.

Brooks, who is also president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said he wanted to express his views after hearing about the latest proposals. He said he agreed with the town’s move to set up zoning regulations for such dispensaries, but urged the board to reject the applications. He said he believes there is more fraudulent than “legitimate” use of medical marijuana cards.

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“Officers are already encountering people with cards who clearly have nothing wrong with them,” he said.

Brooks said he feared there will be higher rates of drug use by adolescents and more crime related to the dispensaries, including resale of marijuana and robberies. Also, he said he is concerned that if voters were “to commercialize marijuana in November,” a dispensary might eventually be turned into a retail drug operation.

“I don’t want to see ads enticing drug users to come to Norwood for their dope,” Brooks said.

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Selectman William Plasko said in an interview Wednesday he and other selectmen respect the chief, but weighed other factors as well when they voted 4-1 to support a proposal by Middlesex Integrative Medicine Inc. to open a dispensary that could bring in revenues of up to $300,000 a year for the town. The proposal still needs local zoning and state permits.

The selectmen voted 4-1 not to support a pitch by The Green Harbor Dispensary. The two proposals laid out in some detail what share of money would be given to the town, depending on how much marijuana was dispensed. Some terms involved an amount per pound, another specified a percentage of the gross income.

Plasko said he voted to support both proposals, but said he thought other selectmen felt that having two companies already vying for a place in Norwood was enough and preferred Middlesex’s plan over Green Harbor’s. Selectwoman Helen Abdallah Donohue voted against both proposals.

Plasko said the town had issued a letter of non-opposition to ARL Healthcare Inc., which is working to find a location for a dispensary and to receive final approval from the state. So far, six medical marijuana dispensaries have opened in Massachusetts.

Any opening of a dispensary in Norwood is likely still two years away, said Plasko, who added that state regulations may be loosening and that the town may have more control if it negotiates a host agreement sooner rather than later.

Jean Lang can be reached at jeanmcmillanlang@gmail.com.
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