The Peabody City Council last night came one step closer to ensuring that a deceptive new state law that allows for “medical” marijuana “dispensaries” doesn’t negatively affect quality of life and safety for city residents.
A procedural matter kept the council from voting to change the zoning in an effort to ban pot shops in any part of the city. But there was still a public hearing, during which it became clear that the move to prohibit these establishments will meet with overwhelming support from the councilors when they take a vote at their next meeting on Jan. 24th.
They couldn’t vote last night because the Planning Board’s unanimous decision to support the zoning change came a little too late to be included in the city council agenda.
But it’s just a small delay and won’t affect what is the right move in rejecting a law that can best be described as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
You see, proponents of the law have been deceiving people all along here. They’ve been making it seem like this is designed to help people with medical conditions ease their pain. The fact is that those who truly need medicinal marijuana can and always pretty much could get prescriptions though other legal means, and get their pot in pill form at a legit pharmacy.
What this new so-called medical marijuana law is all about is creating a stepping stone toward full and open legalization of cannabis sativa. At this point, I’ll tell you that, personally, I have no problem with legalization of marijuana. But why wasn’t that the ballot question we all voted on? Hmmm?
As Ward 2 Councilor Arthur Athas rightly pointed out last night, “when I saw this ballot question, I didn’t read all of the fine print, and I just figured it was going to be prescribed by doctors and through drug stores.”
The reality is quite the opposite, and what’s worse, there are currently no rules or details around any of this. As Mayor Ted Bettencourt pointed out, there are even no rules or regulations right now around who can operate one of these dispensaries.
Will there be background checks for the owners of these dispensaries? No one knows.
How will it be dispensed and will you need a prescription from a physician? No answers.
Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz asks how large will these shops be? No one has the answer.
The list goes on, and with all of this uncertainty, Mayor Bettencourt is right to say that he has public safety concerns. “It’s not in the best interests of Peabody,” Bettencourt said appropriately last night. It’s also of NO other benefit to Peabody, since these dispensaries will operate as “non profits,” meaning there will be no taxes coming back to the city.
Bettencourt says he has been inundated with calls from wannabe pot shop entrepreneurs asking how they can open in the city, and the mayor relates that a few of the people he’s heard from sound a little scary. He adds that local law enforcement officials and District Attorney Jon Blodgett are also very concerned, and don’t approve of the new law.
So, let’s take the vote and be done with this.
Peabody doesn’t need more seediness up on Route 1, and people who truly need marijuana for medical purposes can already get it through their physicians and at a reputable pharmacy.
As Councilor Athas also pointed out, aren’t there already communities that legally ban the sale of alcohol within their town limits?
We can do the same here with pot, allowing those interested in smoking the wacky weed to simply get their fix somewhere down the road.