Banishing the Bud
Thank God we have adults serving on the Board of Selectmen.
Last week, they voted unanimously to use every legal option available to them to keep any kind of commercial establishment related to recreational marijuana out of Wakefield. That includes retail shops and commercial growing operations.
Unfortunately, the rest of the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana last November. But the Wakefield Board of Selectmen doesn’t answer to the rest of the state. They represent the will of the citizens of Wakefield, who bucked the statewide trend and voted against legalizing weed.
Wakefield may have to accept that pot is now legal in Massachusetts, but we don’t have to roll out the welcome mat for it.
The Cannabis Community was warned repeatedly that there were serious flaws in the marijuana industry-designed law that appeared as Question 4 on the ballot in November. But instead of working cooperatively to address those defects, they thumbed their noses and funneled millions of dollars into the campaign to pass a law favorable to the pot industry.
Now, these mellow, easygoing potheads are enraged because state lawmakers delayed the opening of commercial pot stores until July 2018 in order to allow time to fix the disaster that Question 4 had wrought. Nothing makes people crankier than messing with the availability of their drugs.
“The people have spoken!” they railed, when they found out that the legislature was going to tinker with the pot law.
Well, the people of Wakefield have spoken too, last November, when they said they didn’t want to legalize the bud. Now thanks to the selectmen, the voters of Wakefield will at least be able to prevent their kids from walking past “Herb’s Hemp Emporium” every day on their way to school.
It made zero sense to legalize another drug in the midst of an opioid crisis, but unfortunately, that smoke has left the bong.
Yes, I know that marijuana is not an opioid. But they are both drugs and legalization normalizes drug use at the worst possible time. And nothing normalizes a product quite like openly selling it in a retail store, which is why the selectmen don’t want to see that happen anywhere in Wakefield.
One of the big problems with the law that was passed last November is that, while it allows municipalities to “opt out” of having commercial marijuana operations within their borders, it’s a little fuzzy on exactly what towns have to do if they want to keep pot establishments out.
“It’s anybody’s guess what this big piece of legislation means,” Town Counsel Tom Mullen said recently, with his usual gift for understatement.
Consequently, Mullen has prepared the town by crafting a “belt and suspenders” approach, covering all the bases.
There will be a question on the April 25 Town Election ballot asking voters to adopt a bylaw prohibiting all commercial recreational marijuana establishments in Wakefield. Assuming that passes, there will be several articles on the May 1 Annual Town Meeting Warrant. The first will ask the voters to pass a zoning bylaw to prevent pot operations from locating in Wakefield. The second article will ask voters to pass a General Bylaw prohibiting pot establishments in town.
Should both of those fail, a third article will offer voters a chance to delay the opening of any commercial marijuana operation in town until July 1, 2018 in order to give the town a more time to figure out its options.
Of course, the local cannabis constituency won’t like it if pot shops are prohibited from opening in Wakefield. Their idea of a busy day is to roll out of bed at noon, stroll down to the corner Starbuds for a wake and bake, then over to Cumbies for a big bag of Doritos before heading back to mom’s basement for an afternoon of the Cartoon Network.
I’m not too worried though.
“Whoa, dude. Town Meeting, man. That’ll be awesome to sit through stoned!” said no pothead ever.
[This column originally appeared in the March 9, Wakefield Daily Item.]
Filed under: Columns & Essays, History, Humor, News, Opinion, Politics, Wakefield | 14 Comments
Tags: Board of Selectmen, bylaws, cannabis, drugs, election, hemp, Humor, legalization, legislature, marijuana, Mark Sardella, Massachusetts, Opinion, Politics, pot, Question 4, referendum, Thomas Myllen, Town Counsel, Town Meeting, vote, Wakefield Daily Item, weed, zoning