, Newburyport, MA

November 20, 2013

Councilor explains medical marijuana letter

Newburyport Daily News

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To the Editor:

I recently submitted a proposal to the City Council for approval of a Letter of Non-Opposition to locate a Medical Marijuana cultivation facility in Amesbury. The non profit group, ATG approached me in October and the timing of my submission was driven by state Department of Public Health deadlines. This letter would do nothing more than establish a dialogue with ATG during their investigation phase, and permit them to include the City of Amesbury for consideration during a time when we are desperately seeking new revenue streams. There has been some criticism and debate about the proposal, and to address any misinformation, I felt it was important to speak out about why I support considering Amesbury as a potential site. Please understand that I am not advocating for recreational use of marijuana or a marijuana dispensary. For the last 35 years, my career has been as a registered nurse working in a hospital based setting. I strongly believe in the use of medical marijuana for illnesses where conventional medicines have proved ineffective and as adjunct therapy to lessen the suffering of these people during their traditional treatment. In 2012, Massachusetts overwhelmingly passed the “Act for the Humanitarian Use of Marijuana.” The citizens of Amesbury passed this referendum by 69 percent and I supported it as well. Any person who has been positively affected by the successful treatment of their loved ones by this medicine, will confirm that its availability to the public should not be obstructed. As for public support in Amesbury, I want to assure you there will be plenty of time for discussion and debate when and if there is a realistic potential to locate a facility here, but we can’t have that debate if Amesbury is not considered a viable location. According to \state law, business owners and developers have a right to do business and develop. The city can’t obstruct those rights. Cooperating with an organization in a non-oppositional way, creates a working environment that helps us have input on where this facility could be located. This is not a strip club. There is no public clientele, and no “seedy element” to be concerned about. The potential proposal is for a secure, legal, industrial facility. Nothing more. Lastly, the city’s mission plan encourages the development of industrial and commercial business to increase our tax base. It would be irresponsible not to examine every opportunity as we are competing with surrounding communities for that revenue. In addition to increasing our tax base, this non-profit organization works with the city to create a host community agreement, which would bring in a minimum of $50,000 annually with even greater future potential as well as an increase in local employment. I view this as a potential win for Amesbury. And a win for those patients who will benefit from this treatment. We do need to work together, investigate new possibilities and continue to move Amesbury forward.

Anne Ferguson

President, Amesbury City Council