My initial reaction when asked if I was in support of a ban on recreational marijuana stores in Medway was “yes.” The truth is I’m not really against pot. I think that speaks to the complexity of the issue. But I believe that if Medway were to allow a storefront in town, the next generation will think it’s the norm. What that sense of normalcy brings creates my objection.
Medway is not unlike any other community in the MetroWest region. The schools are good, crime is low, the town is fairly quiet, and still Medway has its share of casualties from the opioid epidemic. While for some people marijuana is all they will ever do, for others it is absolutely a gateway drug, particularly for young people. So, should the town condone and allow a product to be marketed and sold leading to the demise of some? No thank you.
In addition to that, of grave concern to me is how abuse of this product will be litigated if we allow marijuana shops in town. Law enforcement will be faced with a difficult challenges. Unlike the case of alcohol, there are no real definitive tests for how impaired a person is when under the influence of marijuana, so will it be left to the individual officers to decide? That’s not a knock on the police; we’re setting them up for failure. An operating-under-the-influence-of-marijuana conviction would result in difficulty securing a transportation job, or to obtain a Firearms Identification Card or a license to carry. These are heavy prices to pay for a youthful mistake.
It’s said that the need for a binding referendum at the local level is the result of the Legislature failing to previously adopt a well-thought out marijuana legalization law. The lawmakers didn’t do that and here we are with an ill-conceived plan. The state must administer a program it doesn’t want, and cities and towns must shoulder the impacts of legalization. When you look to what’s the driving force behind the storefront, as always it comes down to money. No thanks, Medway can raise the money elsewhere.
Medway should allow recreational marijuana shops. The effects of marijuana are similar to alcohol, although the retail model differs. Marijuana retail stores are not like Targets or even liquor stores where products can be picked off of shelves. In retail pot shops, the merchandise is much more tightly controlled – more like prescription drugs. Each town that allows retail can control the look and location of its shops with zoning regulations. Those regulations will need to evolve, but we can take advantage of what Colorado and Washington have learned when crafting the rules.
Every Massachusetts town will learn new strategies for avoiding issues. Each town will have costs for training and supporting law enforcement, health, and education officials, regardless of whether or not it allows retail sales. These costs can be mitigated by allowing retail shops and earning tax and fee revenues.
Some residents worry about edibles and children. The state controls what is sold in the shops, so letting our state officials know of these concerns is the best approach. If edibles – especially those looking like candy – are allowed, they will be available to Medway residents regardless of whether we have any local shops. We should continue to educate our children about all controlled substances: alcohol, marijuana, and more. These concerns have no relationship to whether or not the retail shops are situated in Medway.
Having a shop that assures the purity of product and removes drug dealers from the equation is another important reason to allow retail in Medway. Retail products are safer than whatever is being sold on the streets.
Some residents will appreciate accessing local marijuana for medicinal uses without the time and expense of obtaining medical marijuana cards. For certain ailments, marijuana can provide relief much as a Tylenol may cure a headache, without needing a visit to the doctor.
There are no negatives to having recreational marijuana shops in Medway. We should use the income from taxes to promote the safe usage of marijuana. Medway has thrived for many years with at least four retail liquor stores in prime locations. Let’s give marijuana stores a try: Vote “No” on the proposed ban on retail marijuana.
(This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.)As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.