Westborough Voters to Decide on Commercial Recreational Marijuana Biz

Chief Al Gordon discusses the marijuana facilities questions facing Westborough voters in March. Watch the full episode of his Police Report with community activist Jody Hensley here.

On March 7th & March 18th, Town of Westborough voters will decide if the town will PREVENT the establishment and commercial expansion of: 1) Non-medicinal marijuana cultivators, product developers, manufacturing and test facilities, and 2) Marketing and sales of commercial recreational marijuana and high-potency THC edibles, concentrates and drug paraphernalia in retail “pot” shops.

To educate voters, a group of concerned Westborough citizens will host three information sessions:

On March 1st, a presentation “COMMERCIALIZING POT: THE BIG TOBACCO OF THE 21ST CENTURY” will be held at the Westborough Public Library from 7:00-8:30 p.m. The talk will highlight a short film, “Then and Now,” followed by a discussion of the “opt out” provision’s impact to the Town of Westborough. The film takes a look at how the tobacco industry pioneered compelling addiction marketing strategies to build a massive consumer base of lifetime users that led to a national public health crisis, and how the current marijuana industry is using all the same tactics.

On March 6th and March 14th, voter information sessions will be held at private homes from 7-8:30pm.

To RSVP and for more information, email: OptOutWestboro@gmail.com

More details from a press release provided by the Chief’s guest Jody Hensley are provided below:

Although the Town of Westborough voted against the legalization and commercialization of recreational marijuana by a decisive margin in a statewide ballot question in November 2016, Massachusetts law now requires local voters to take another step and “opt-out” in order to prohibit the establishment of commercial recreational marijuana-related businesses in their community.

This opt-out provision does not prohibit the personal use or limited growing of marijuana in a residence by adults over age 21, without commercial exchange, as limited and regulated by the new state law. Use and possession under age 21 remains strictly illegal.

Massachusetts law now requires a separate “vote of the voters” in order to “opt out” of retail for-profit marijuana production and sales. Westborough Board of Selectmen decided to offer the opt-out question for all registered Westborough voters at BOTH Town Election and Town Meeting as a “belt and suspenders” approach to ensure the vote is valid. Therefore, each concerned Westborough registered voter is able to vote twice, once at Town Election and again on two articles at Town Meeting.

A YES vote on the March 7th municipal election ballot and YES votes on two articles at the March 18th Town Meeting (Articles to Amend General and Zoning Bylaws – Marijuana Not Medically Prescribed) will allow Westborough to “opt out” and, thereby, prevent the marijuana industry from opening, operating and expanding in the town.

Without an “opt out” vote, the marijuana industry has the full extent of the law to open, operate and expand, without a limit on the number of operations, risking proliferation of “for-profit” recreational drug merchandising, commercialization and industrialization. The door is left wide-open for local communities to lose control of their business landscape and to experience increased drug use and abuse due to wide-spread availability of this controlled and addictive substance, which remains illegal under federal law.

The health and societal burdens brought upon by increased commercial marijuana availability risks profound and long-term effects on the Westborough community and surrounding towns. Well documented reports including those from the Massachusetts Medical Society have noted that increased availability of highly potent, THC-laced marijuana products directly increases drug use leading to higher addiction rates, cognitive impairment especially in youth brain development, increased accidental overdoses especially due to THC-infused edibles, such as candies, food and beverages, increased emergency room visits and motor vehicle accidents, and greater risks during pregnancy including lower birth weight and pre-term births.

Registered Westborough voters are encouraged to vote at BOTH venues:
TOWN ELECTION – Tuesday, March 7, Westborough High School, 8am-8pm
TOWN MEETING – Saturday, March 18, Westborough High School, 1pm, (with potential continuation on Monday, March 20, 7pm)

Background: The Massachusetts recreational marijuana law that statewide voters passed in November 2016 is profoundly important: it legally captures every city and town in the Commonwealth for industrial expansion by the commercial marijuana industry in each community. In other states, voters “opt in”, or approve the operation of marijuana businesses in their communities. For example, two-thirds of Colorado communities did not “opt in” to marijuana commerce. In Massachusetts, voters must proactively “opt out” to prohibit the establishment and expansion of marijuana operations in their town and city limits.

The “opt-out” provision, written into several ballot question laws across the country by marijuana industry activists for the first time in 2016, suggests a form of “industrial regulatory capture” which is how industrial forces gain control over and access the market place. Though the law suggests a local jurisdiction could “regulate” such businesses, the law contains a legal standard of “so long as such regulation is not unreasonably impracticable” for the marijuana business, inviting legal challenges to strict local regulation. The law was written so that communities must take extraordinary measures to “opt-out” in order to avoid commercial trade in marijuana which remains illegal under federal law.

Negative health impacts of marijuana are well documented and will impact our community and society, as cited below:

MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SOCIETY http://www.massmed.org/Patient-Care/Health-Topics/Marijuana/What-Are-the-Risks-of-Marijuana-Use-/#.WKmgr_Klw-0: HTTP://WWW.MASSMED.ORG/PATIENT-CARE/HEALTH-TOPICS/MARIJUANA/RECREATIONAL-MARIJUANA/#.WKMITFKLW-1

MARIJUANA POLICY FACT SHEET http://www.mapreventionalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Marijuana-Policy-Fact-Sheet_November-2016_FINAL-5.pdf [1]

THIS IS AMERICA ON LEGAL DRUGS. Do we want use rates going up, along with harms? http://themarijuanareport.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Illegal-vs.-Legal-Drugs.jpg [2]

MARIJUANA IN COLORADO: THE STATE OF HIGH http://video.rmpbs.org/video/2365877889/ [3]

SAM EDUCATIONAL BRIEFS & DATA ON MARIJUANA POLICY, FEBRUARY 2017 h [4]ttps://learnaboutsam.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/06Feb2017-SAM-educational-briefs.pdf [4]

KNOW THE FACTS: MARIJUANA COMMERCIALIZATION http://marijuana-policy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Know-the-Facts-Marijuana-Commercialization_Sept-2016.pdf [5]

MARIJUANA AND ADOLESCENT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT http://marijuana-policy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Marijuana-and-Brain-Development_Education-Slides_June-2016_FINAL.pdf [6]

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE http://5116ab0bf2ea3049f6dacd5e.qg7wrhg.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Smart-CO-Presentation-Oct-2016.pdf [7]

SMART COLORADO – PROTECT YOUTH FROM COMMERCIALIZED MARIJUANA http://smartcolorado.org/

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