NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 13, 2013

Moratorium best way to deal with medical marijuana

To the editor:

A recent article from the New York Times of Oct. 23 shows that the problems of medical marijuana, which in California has been legalized for over a decade, are not necessarily as scary as its detractors think. While there will always be issues and conflicts with a federally controlled substance, individual municipalities can be in charge of their future if they wish.

According to the Times: “ … though Los Angeles has struggled to regulate marijuana dispensaries, with neighborhoods upset at their sheer number, the threat of unsavory street traffic and the stigma of marijuana shops on the corner, communities that imposed early and strict regulations on their operations have not experienced such disruption.” I think that’s good advice.

It’s essential for Amesbury as a town to look at the causes and effects of legalizing medical marijuana in a sober and thoughtful fashion. Medical uses are the least uncomfortable and easily explained. What agitates residents is the possible expansion of uses that are non-medical.

The process needn’t be rushed. On Dec. 17, there is a special meeting to consider a temporary moratorium that will allow the city to discuss in a fair and open manner proper zoning and regulation of any possible dispensaries that could be potentially established. Over 100 towns in Massachusetts have thus far done this so that time and care could be taken to make sure that medical marijuana, while legal and cannot be improbably zoned, can be carefully controlled from the very beginning as opposed to a rushed process with slap-dash zoning overlays just to make a few late-in-the-game applicants happy. This is our town, not theirs.

A little thought goes a long way: What’s a few months to get the people of our town understanding this issue in a very public way versus years of potential troubles that would be difficult to reverse and leave residents feeling their views were not taken into account? Let’s take a deep breath, relax, and do this right the first time. Urge your current and future councilors to approve the moratorium and do the same.

Dave Haraske

Amesbury

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