Chairwoman of Wayland Youth Advisory Council
A proposed six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in Wayland narrowly failed at Town Meeting this spring. But with the proposal set to come up again at the November Special Town Meeting, this is a good time to review the issues involved. Along with other members of the Wayland Youth Advisory Council, I firmly believe a moratorium is in the town’s best interest and hope voters will come to the same conclusion.
Wayland Police Detective Tyler Castagno, who is a member of our council, recently discussed with me how he felt as a parent about this issue. “Having two children growing up in Wayland, I feel allowing marijuana sales would increase access to marijuana and normalize usage to our youth,’’ he said. “Not the environment I want my children to grow up in.”
“From a public safety standpoint, I am concerned with tying up resources,” added Detective Castagno, a Wayland police officer for the past decade. He worries that if Wayland becomes the only area community to allow recreational marijuana sales, the town could see more traffic and crime and greater demands on police and fire services. Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wellesley have all passed moratoriums, and Weston has banned the sale of recreational marijuana.
The Denver Post reported that “Colorado’s crime-rate increase in 2016 was more than 11 times the 0.3 percent average increase reported in the 30 largest cities in the nation,” citing the Brennan Center for Justice. The Post said that “some Colorado lawmakers, police, and legal experts partly blame the marijuana industry, claiming that has lured transients and criminals to the state.”
In addition is the concern for “normalizing” drivers under the influence of marijuana. The Denver Post reported in another story that in Colorado, the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana use jumped 145 percent from 2013 to 2016.
Wayland has always prided itself on being a safe, friendly, and family-focused community. We have incredible schools, neighborhoods, and green space. The addition of recreational marijuana shops could deter new families from moving to Wayland and shift the feel of our community to the negative. Please consider what Wayland means to you when you consider your vote this fall.
Wayland resident, CEO of CannaKorp Inc., makers of vaporizer devices
Last November the Massachusetts ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adult purchase passed, with more than 50 percent voting in support. This past April, the conversation continued in our town and a proposal to put a moratorium on approving cannabis retail businesses did not pass in Wayland Town Meeting.
The people of Massachusetts got it right, the people of Wayland got it right, and then the Massachusetts Legislature got it mostly right when it came together to develop a compromise recreational marijuana bill that Governor Charlie Baker signed into law in late July. We now have a framework with which to build a compliant, inclusive, and innovative industry that will bring jobs and tax revenue to our communities, and safe access to high-quality, tested cannabis products.
While certainly not universally accepted, my own journey in learning about cannabis — and meeting other people who work in and who have been appointed to regulate this new industry — has led me to the conclusion that there are responsible ways to use the natural benefits of the plant, both medicinally and recreationally. Moving the sale of cannabis from the dark unknown to the regulated light is a good thing for Wayland. We should embrace the movement to quality assurance, product safety, and education, not obstruct it with a needless moratorium.
I am involved in the cannabis industry as a manufacturer of a vaporizer device, but that is not my motivation for contributing this opinion. The reason I became involved in the industry is that I learned about the benefits already uncovered, and I learned how nascent medical research really is in this field. In the meantime, other mind- and mood-altering products — and pharmaceuticals with unpleasant side effects — are accepted by the public, but are far more dangerous than properly cultivated and administered cannabis, even when it is used recreationally.
Let’s move away from the historic stigmas about cannabis created with false information, and embrace businesses in the town that can make potentially significant contributions to our tax base and will, if we all act responsibly, improve our lives.
Last week’s argument: Should Massachusetts allow guns to be equipped with suppressors, or silencers?
Yes: 89.13% (5,215 votes)
No: 10.87% (636 votes)
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.