Get Together on Pot

Loca officials need to talk about marijuana dispensaries because nobody is an expert at this brand new topic.


Maybe towns like Dedham, Walpole and Norwood should talk among themselves about marijuana dispensaries.

Selectmen in Dedham and Walpole are asking their state representatives to slow down the rule making at the state level and give the towns time to draw some cogent local rules.

Walpole’s Deputy Police Chief John Carmichael said Walpole should look to get a dispensary; he opposed the passage of the marijuana law a few weeks ago, but said Walpole could keep control of the dispensary and not have to allow individuals to grow their pot unsupervised. But then the town lawyer said Walpole could simply add a provision to their existing laws and do away with marijuana, if it so desired.

Dedham Selectmen Chairman John MacDonald said Dedham should write the state and ask for a delay in writing the state language; he called for a Dedham Town Meeting to shape the town’s regulations.

Norwood Police Chief William G. Brooks III suggests the Norwood selectmen should apply the restrictions that curb “adult uses” in town.

There is massive uncertainty on this law.

Town decision makers have not been seriously talking on this topic in the government department where the decisions will be made because the topic could not arise.

Public officials need basic training on marijuana before they can soberly assess what – if any – dangers exist. They need some knowledge of the difference among marijuana plants. They need to know what a 60-day supply looks like, how much security a marijuana dispensary needs, who should be able to operate a dispensary, what are the police powers under the new law, will dispensaries have one-year or more, who will be the judges of these dispensaries and many more questions that ever had to be answered before.

Everybody is in the dark here; nobody has had to deal with marijuana as a legal entity.

Selectmen and city councils and aldermen are going to draw laws that have no foundation in law unless they get to know marijuana. If every town schools itself on marijuana, local ordinances will conflict inevitably.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers on Beacon Hill will try to come up instantly with its own law that will go through the state’s public health department. Lawmakers should enact a provisional law and then work on a piece of thoughtful legislation.

One thing all officials in state and local government must realize is that marijuana for medical uses is legal.

Maybe they all opposed it in November’s election.

Maybe they still oppose it.

But they are charged with a legal system for marijuana dispensaries and for individual citizens with medical problems to grow the substance at their homes if the dispensary is too far away.

That is everybody’s law now.

Lots of people are busy finding ways to zone marijuana out of their town, but it is coming to all of Massachusetts Jan. 1, and state and local officials need knowledge now to make the law work. There will be 35 dispensaries in Massachusetts next year.

Selectmen from the area should meet together and talk about the future for all towns.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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