The Town of Westborough Massachusetts was the first to opt out of commercial marijuana commerce under the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act passed by a small majority in November 2016. Westborough’s ballot question passed with 80% of the vote of its voters. Its General Bylaw passed at Town Meeting with 87% the vote and its Zoning Bylaw with 88%. Here’s how Westborough did it but it was no easy feat. Here’s why.
The MA Marijuana Law was written by and for the marijuana industry. Their ultimate aim is to maximize consumption in order to maximize profit. With each push into new states, the marijuana industry has tweaked ballot petitions based on issues that have become obstacles to maximizing their markets in other states. One of many examples is Local Control. Continue reading
As cities and towns in Massachusetts consider whether to allow marijuana-related uses in their communities, many are doing the math and deciding it’s not worth it.
Westborough was the first to “Opt Out” AND others are following suit having asked themselves whether increased drug use and it’s predictable impacts on youth use rates, youth and adult addiction, are compatible with the brand of their communities.
The media loves of headlines pronouncing the amount of revenue that taxing marijuana commerce may bring into states. But as is often the case with marijuana coverage, rarely do reporters inquire deeply and rarely do they put marijuana revenue into the context of public health, enforcement and societal costs, and seldom do they do the math. Continue reading
Massachusetts’ First “Opt-Out” Town Attributes 10x-Margin Victory to Fact-Based Voter Education
WESTBOROUGH, MA – After voting by a slim 6% margin against the November 2016 Massachusetts’ Ballot Question 4 to legalize marijuana (53% v.47%), the Town of Westborough (March 2017) became the first community in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to actively prohibit non-medical marijuana businesses, farms, testing and manufacturing. And, did so decisively at the ballot box (80%) and at Town Meeting
(87% General Bylaw / 88% Zoning Bylaw).
The 60+point margin victory was directly attributed to fact-based voter education and awareness on the risks and implications of today’s high-potency marijuana products, the speculative green-rush of an “addiction-for-profit” marijuana industry and specifically, the onerous underpinnings of Massachusetts Marijuana Law.
VOTE YES to OPT OUT to KEEP OUT Pot Shops:
When do we vote?
TOWN ELECTIONS BALLOT – Tuesday, March 7, Westborough High School, 8am-8pm
TOWN MEETING – Saturday, March 18, Westborough High School, 1pm, (potential continuation to Monday, March 20, 7pm)
Do we have to vote twice?
We encourage you to vote twice. The two voting venues are independent of each other. If you are unable to vote twice, it is absolutely fine to just vote in one of the two voting dates.
Why do we need 2 votes – Town Ballot: Tues, Mar 7 and Town Meeting: Sat, Mar 18-20th?
To avoid the state mandate in the new marijuana law that our community host pot shops, we must “opt out.”
To “opt out” of commercial pot sales requires a “vote of the voters” to pass a “bylaw” preventing pot shops. A “vote of the voters” occurs at the ballot box. A “bylaw”, however, must be passed on the Town Meeting floor. To withstand legal challenge, Westborough, under the current law, must do both. The Board of Selectman and Town Manager are referring to it as a belt and suspenders approach.
Who can vote?
To vote you must be a U.S. Citizen, age 18 and older, and a Massachusetts resident. You must register 20 days prior to the election. Continue reading
Update April 3, 2017: The Massachusetts Municipal Association continues to advocate for changes to the Massachusetts Marijuana Law that simply and clarify local control options for cities and towns. This is their letter to the Joint Committee on Marijuana.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association sent, in November 2016, a strongly and thoughtfully worded appeal to State leaders urging changes be made to the law passed with Ballot Question 4 to regulate commercialized marijuana for recreational use. On December 7th, 2016 MMA issued a call to action to Massachusetts members and citizens to urge their legislators to delay and rewrite this law that is fraught with “many unanswered questions and many significant flaws”. Continue reading
This selection of 30 references is a thorough compilation of current research findings on the health impacts of marijuana and the public health impacts of marijuana legalization and commercialization.
Any policymaker or journalist seeking to be better informed than by the spin of industry promoters would do well to inform their decision making, advocacy and reporting by studying and referencing this work. Continue reading
Those of us involved in monitoring the rise of corporate marijuana should understand the value of our disquiet. It is an early warning sign.
Over twenty years ago M.I.T. systems thinker, Peter Senge, wrote about the “parable of the boiled frog.” In short: if you place a frog in a shallow pan of boiling water it will immediately try and jump out. But if you place the frog in warm water, and don’t startle him, he will remain there, unbothered. If the temperature of the water rises gradually, the frog will stay put in the pan, until it’s too late and he’s unable to climb out. As ghastly as the image of the boiled frog is, the lesson is clear. We are not unlike the frog. Our ability for sensing threats to survival is geared to immediate and sudden changes, not to slow, creeping, gradual changes.
(The Fifth Discipline: the Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge, Doubleday. August 1990)
What are the top factors which will awaken the rest of America to the bigger picture? Can we make clear the threats and opportunities we sense around us, or is the lull of the warm water just too tempting for a country brimming with distraction? Can we pay attention? Continue reading
Residents in states that voted recently to approve recreational marijuana commercialization will now have to deal with the reality of what will be for sale in their downtown stores.
Among the “products” they legalized is “shatter”, a chemical reduction of the marijuana plant that is nearly 100% pure psychoactive neurotoxin THC. The product is consumed by “dabbing.” In a process akin to freebasing cocaine, shards of shatter are vaporized with a blowtorch in specially designed pipes–paraphernalia that will additionally grace neighborhood storefronts unless communities organize to opt out of recreational marijuana sales. Continue reading
The following is a very poignant letter from an addictions treatment physician to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
As this blog has warned before, today’s marijuana is different and far more potent than that on which this well-intentioned but wildly misjudged push for legalization was conceived.
Hybridized, genetically-modified marijuana is the product of an industry that is cloaking its push for full-blown commercialization of another addictive and harmful product in the guise of compassion and civil rights.
The simple truth of commercialization following legalization:
Increased availability and decreased perception of harm drive youth use and lowers the age of initiation to drug use — the goal of an industry working to capture lifetime customers, despite known consequences for physical and mental health. Youth exposures double the risk of addiction.
Here is “Pot used to be pretty harmless, but its plenty dangerous today” as printed in the Pittsburg Post Gazette: Continue reading
“Marijuana use during pregnancy interrupts fetal brain development. This can result in permanent damage and compromise the development of future cognitive abilities (1). It is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, that impacts the growth of the brain and this stage of the brain’s development.
Update 02/04/2017: The New York Times may finally be taking the public health impacts of marijuana commercialization more seriously if their article, “Pregnant Women Turn to Marijuana: Perhaps Harming Infants” is an indication. THC ingestion is among the more insidious downstream effects of the normalization of cannabis use. The percentages of pregnant moms using pot seems smallish, but the numbers have nearly doubled since legalization and commercialization. And that with more potent pot on the market.
The comparison with alcohol still irks. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a more universally understood risk. Don’t drink while pregnant is common advice. These are two completely different chemical exposures. With a beer or a glass of wine the water soluble alcohol is metabolized and excreted from the body in 24 hours. With cannabis, THC not only crosses placenta, but it is fat soluble and persists in the fatty tissues and breast milk for weeks or months–much more health education needed here.
Colorado hospitals have THC-positive babies needing extra care now in there maternity wards nearly every day now.
Marijuana investors and businesses would be wise to begin to accrue a legal liability fund. It is only a matter of time for evidence and public health policy to catch up, as it did with the tobacco industry and spurn lawsuits to reoup the costs caused by the downstream effects of THC normalization. Continue reading
Colorado is showing us that private pot interests dominate the regulatory and democratic process. And Big Money is how they do it.
….Borghesani [of the campaign to legalize and commercialize marijuana in Massachusetts] said,
“Let’s take the model in Colorado and several other states and put control under state and local authorities, put sales in the hands of legitimate tax-paying businesses and let’s generate revenue for the taxpayers in the Commonwealth.”
But here is what the marijuana industry he advocates for does in Colorado. It stacks the regulatory decision making in favor of drug sales and against the health and well being of the public.
Now, as an estimated 80% of Coloradans want childproof packaging, potency limits, and health warnings like tobacco or any FDA approved drug, Big Marijuana dollars shut down the people’s access to a vote on those regulatory measures. You can expect nothing different here in the Commonwealth. The pot industry wrote the Massachusetts law to stack their Cannabis Advisory Board, which will devise marijuana regulations, with 9 of 15 members required from within the cannabis industry.
Remember, there is no money in NOT selling drugs. That’s why once addiction for profit enterprise takes root politically in a jurisdiction it is incredibly difficult to extricate. Drug money is poured back into the political process to maintain unbridled sales and marketing of their drug. This explains why use rates are highest where marijuana is legal, and use rates are lower where marijuana is not legal.
Leaders From Every Region Join Growing List of Organizations To Say That Question 4 is Wrong Path For Their Communities
The list of health, business, faith, and local town boards and officials who oppose Question 4 continues to grow weekly. They join a bi-partisan coalition of 120 legislators from every region of the Commonwealth today voiced their opposition to ballot question 4 to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
[Added to the list below this week: Worcester Board of Health, Westborough Board of Selectmen, Milford Regional Medical Center, Tri-Town Council, Waltham City Council, Eight physicians organizations, Link to Mass Medical Society opposition booklet. Check back, list grows almost daily.] Continue reading
The Wellesley League of Women Voters explores what exactly would be legalized in Massachusetts under Ballot Question 4 including, butane hash oil extraction to produce the marijuana concentrate “shatter”; industrial grow operations; home grow and distribution provision; THC infused edibles and food products; public safety implications and much more.
Watch the forum here:
In this second in a series from WestboroughTV, the issue of marijuana legalization and commercialization for recreational purposes is explored through conversation. In this episode, Colorado business consultant Jo McGuire joins hosts Heidi Heilman and Jody Hensley to shed light on what might be coming to Massachusetts should Ballot Question 4 be approved by the voters this November. Employment and workplace issues, types of marijuana and THC products, youth use data in Colorado, taxes and revenue and implications on youth access and the black market from home growing are discussed. A must see for anyone considering which way to cast their vote in Massachusetts, or in Arizona, Maine, and Nevada where similar industry-written questions are on the ballot.
On Sunday night, October 28th, CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ ran a story, “The Pot Vote,” highlighting public health and safety impacts on Colorado since the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The segment – which features the firsthand experiences and expertise of doctors, law enforcement, and prevention advocates, and CO Governor John Hickenlooper – serves as a cautionary tale to other States considering legalizing recreational marijuana. We can and should heed their warning.
NOT WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED:
“It’s affecting the emergency room, it’s affecting the operating room, it’s affecting just about every aspect of medicine that you could think of,”
— Dr. Steven Simerville, Pediatrician and Medical Director of the newborn ICU, Pueblo’s Saint Mary Corwin Medical Center.
In the premier of a new Rocky Mountain PBS investigative series, “Insight”, news anchor John Ferrugia explores what is unknown about the risks of high potency THC for those who “dab” so-called “wax”, “honey”, or “shatter” that can bathe the brain with hundreds of milligrams of the drug. That’s compared to a limit of 10 milligrams per serving of edibles infused with THC.
“Dabbing” is freebasing marijuana. Yes, like freebasing cocaine only using nearly pure THC concentrate that is vaporized with a blow torch and inhaled. The concentrate is nearly 100% pure THC–stripped by distillation of any of the protectant CBD that is also present in plant marijuana. The effect is devastating on the brain, often irreversible, and can lead to severe mental illness and, in this story, death.
Oh, and yes, it is all perfectly legal in States that vote for recreational and medical marijuana ballot questions. Watch and reconsider your vote:
How’s Legalization Working out in CO?
I moved from Colorado a little over two years ago and I have not been back so I wanted to hear from my friends how marijuana legalization is working out. I posted on Facebook: “Through conversations I have found that people in MA have no idea about the unintended/unforeseen consequences of commercialized marijuana. I have not been back to CO since we moved two years ago so I thought it would interesting to hear from you about your experiences and what you would tell voters in states proposing to legalize recreational pot.”
“Hate it! Worst thing ever. I want to move and I have lived here all of my life.”
“CRIME GOES UP AND HOMELESS WILL FLOCK TO YOUR CITY”
“Hate what’s has happened to colorado. Look out the rest of the nation.” Continue reading
Pueblo, Colorado– The story of Pueblo is a cautionary tale of what happens when local governments try to resolve their financial difficulties with tax revenue from marijuana. This small city with a population of 120,000 is a former steel mill town which fell on hard times. It ranks #2 in the state for poverty.
Seventy percent of the counties in Colorado opted out of Amendment 64, which commercialized and legalized marijuana. The city of Pueblo banned retail marijuana, but the county of Pueblo began to give licenses to marijuana grows and retail stores. Pueblo County commissioners saw marijuana as an opportunity to fill empty factories and create jobs. They made the decision against the wishes of most of the county’s 160,000 residents.
Here is a two-page pdf of reasons why Massachusetts voters should be very concerned about the provisions of Question 4. Please read, download, forward, print, share. And, please vote “No” on Question 4.
Will it really take a body count for our country to wake up to public health impact of legalized, commercialized marijuana industry using Big Tobacco’s playbook?
Reisa Clardy lost her husband and father to their seven children when a driver high on marijuana crossed three lanes of traffic and barreled into his cruiser. Here’s her appeal:
“Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug. Washington was one of the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and these findings serve as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug.”
I was invited to include an unprecedented guest column in my church’s newsletter on this issue and am attaching here:
Do you remember the 1990s? In the 1990s, Massachusetts and other states successfully sued the tobacco industry for deceptive practices, including misrepresenting the harmful nature of tobacco products, intentionally attracting children to tobacco products, and targeting African-Americans. Those practices were wrong back then, and they still are today.
Now this fall we are faced with a statewide push to legalize THC, the active compound of marijuana, in ballot Question 4 – but the deception and hunger for profits remains. As someone who has always prioritized the health of children and families in our community – I am a father of three school-aged kids – I am troubled at what I have learned about Question 4 and its implications. The profiteering is immoral, dangerous for our children, and makes worse our current public health opioid crisis. So I hope we can learn and pray about this decision, because I consider the hazards serious:
Though it is still early, these “experiments” in legalization are not succeeding. Marijuana commercialization is failing as a public health approach to drug use.
In the wake of multimillion-dollar political campaigns funded with out-of-state money, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November 2012. Though it would take more than a year to set up retail stores, personal use (CO, WA) and home cultivation (in CO, which includes giving away of up to six plants) were almost immediately legalized after the vote. (Get the full 18-page Slide Deck Here) Continue reading
While the Yes On 4 campaign uses deceitful and confusing TV ads featuring “doctors” to push full-blown, commercialized, retail recreational bud, concentrate, edible THC-infused food and other high-potency marijuana-derived products, our real doctors are urging their colleagues, and all voters, to Vote No on Question 4 in Massachusetts. They join the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts and eight other Massachusetts-based physicians groups on a massive list list of those opposed. In a new booklet distribute to their entire membership, and available here, MMS cites high-potency THC products, low tax rate, lack of public health oversight, lack of revenue earmarked for education, prevention and treatment, limits on local control, and highly problematic personal cultivation, the doctors organization among their reasons for opposition and sum up their position as follows:
“The MMS believes the health of the people of Massachusetts, particularly its children, adolescents, and young adults, is at stake with this ballot question,” says President James Gessner, MD in his cover letter.
And, they have good reason to be alarmed. Continue reading
While YesOn4 campaign’s TV ads (fact checked as FALSE by WCVB TV) feature “doctors” to confuse voters that this law has something to do with medical marijuana, our state’s hospital and healthcare professionals urge a “No” vote on Question 4 in Massachusetts. In the most recent correspondence to their member hospitals and healthcare professionals, the MHHA points to the latest TV ad (fact checked as TRUE by WCVB). The ad rightly illustrates that this law is about commercial, retail, recreational marijuana with no limits on potency or the number of “establishments” that could grow, sell, process, and manufacture bud, hash, and marijuana infused edibles in our towns and communities “by right”. Continue reading
Marijuana represents a significant part of substance use in America and adversely affects the health of millions of Americans. According to a recent report(1) issued by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.(2) Its widespread use and abuse, particularly by young people under the age of eighteen, is steadily increasing while scientific evidence clearly links its long term damaging effects on brain development. Continue reading
Ballot Question 4 would allow an unlimited number pot shops, by right, in Massachusetts cities and towns. Shops that will sell THC-infused marijuana edibles, with no limits on potency, in the form of candy, chocolate, candy bars, soda, cookies, and baked goods indiscernible from their benign predecessors. 4000 kids in Colorado were exposed to these edibles in 2015 alone.
50% of revenue of the pot industry in other states comes from edibles. The law enfolded in Question 4 is a business plan, a corporate takeover of our towns, that maximizes sales for an out-of-state, predatory industry and puts the burden and cost for any limitations on our communities.
Please read the entire law. Please join us in voting No on Question 4 in Massachusetts.
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce announces its opposition to ballot Question 4 which proposes the
legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. Please see below for the official statement.
“The case against Question 4 is a compelling one on many levels, starting with the broad public health concerns raised by elected officials. The bill is drafted with the wants of the marijuana industry placed before the needs and safety of our communities, including the business community. Continue reading
- The proposed law is written to benefit the commercial marijuana industry Massachusetts has already decriminalized marijuana possession and authorized medical marijuana. People are not being jailed for marijuana use, and have access to it for health reasons. This ballot question is about allowing the national marijuana industry to come into Massachusetts and market and sell marijuana products in our communities.
Those behind Massachusetts Question 4 insist that this law will reduce youth access by regulating marijuana like alcohol. Compare how Massachusetts has prohibited youth access to alcohol for decades with the way Question 4 will deal with this issue:
1 Failure to pay fine and complete drug class within a year may result in a delinquency complaint in juvenile court for violators under age 17. Same is true for misrepresentation of age or fraudulent identification. However, adults, who are most likely to be violators, never face criminal penalties.
2 Only similarity between alcohol and marijuana enforcement is Question 4 preserves the $500 civil fine for an “open container” of marijuana in a vehicle. Compare 90, § 24I with 94G, § 13(d).
Do we want MORE marijuana use? Or do we want LESS marijuana use?
The motivation of marijuana profiteers is MORE marijuana use.
By PAUL M. McNEIL
Tuesday, August 02, 2016
When people ask me why I am against the legalization of marijuana, I need to take a deep breath and compose my thoughts, for I consistently struggle knowing where to begin.
My biggest concern is that by legalizing this increasingly potent psychoactive drug we are creating the next “Big Tobacco.” At the height of tobacco commercialization, over 50 percent of Americans smoked. That is not “progressive.” That’s an epidemic – and it’s the last thing I think Massachusetts wants and deserves with regards to marijuana legislation. Continue reading
Historic fundraising effort to counter non-medical marijuana initiatives comes on the heels of proposed measures that would legalize pot advertising and candies.
“This is about stopping the next Big Tobacco.”
[Alexandria, VA] – SAM Action, the non-profit 501(c)(4) affiliate of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, co-founded by a former Obama Administration drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet, announced today a fundraising milestone of more than $2 million dedicated to defeating ballot measures that would legalize marijuana advertising, pot candies, and legitimize massive marijuana special interest groups across the country. Continue reading
From, “The Marijuana Report”
Marijuana DUII arrests in Oregon surged 163 percent in the first six months of recreational legalization, according to the Oregon State Police. DUII, driving under the influence of intoxicants, is the term Oregon uses to describe alcohol and drug impaired driving. Authorities say the lack of systematic data collection about marijuana-impaired driving is the biggest gap in the state’s preparation for recreational legalization. A report on the topic is due to the legislature next year. Continue reading
The age groups with the most calls were children less than five years old (109 calls) and adolescents ages 13-19 (78 calls).
From, “The Marijuana Report”
Researchers analyzed exposure calls coded to marijuana edibles that were reported to the National Poison Data System from January 2013 to December 2015. Four-hundred and thirty calls were reported.
The two states that had implemented recreational marijuana legalization by then had the most exposures:
Colorado—166, or 1.05 per 100,000
Washington—96, or .46 per 100,000 Continue reading
The Boston Globe, reports some positive news.
A new poll shows that a majority of voters are opposing Question 4 to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts. 51% of voters oppose it, while just 41% support it.
It shows that as more people learn about this proposal written by and for the marijuana industry, the more concerns they are having. Continue reading
Last Friday was an amazing day.
Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, Speaker DeLeo, Lieutenant Governor Polito, Sheriff Tompkins, and so many health care, education, business, and anti-addiction leaders joined together to kick off the campaign to oppose the legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
Not many issues bring such a broad, bi-partisan coalition together. But this issue does.
They’re coming together to make a statement – that allowing the the billion dollar commercial Marijuana Industry into Massachusetts is the wrong path for our kids and our communities. Continue reading
As Commonwealth Confronts Addiction Crisis, Coalition Leaders Believe Allowing Billion-Dollar Industry to Market Edible Products, Increasing Access to Young People, Is Wrong Path for Massachusetts
BOSTON – A broad-based, bi-partisan coalition of community leaders and experts joined together today to urge voters to reject the proposed ballot question to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts. Particularly in the context of the addiction crisis we are currently facing, the leaders said allowing the billion-dollar marijuana industry into Massachusetts to market highly potent edible products and increase access to young people is the wrong path for the state.
BOSTON – Today, the Supreme Judicial Court, while allowing the ballot question that would legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts to move forward, has revised the one-sentence ballot description of a yes vote to make explicit that marijuana edibles would be legalized.
Marijuana edibles account for approximately 50% of marijuana product sales in Colorado since legalization. The ballot question places no restriction on the potency of these products, which have THC levels as high as 90% in Colorado. Edible products include candies like gummy bears and swedish fish, chocolate bars, cookies, and sodas.
Statement from Corey Welford, Spokesperson for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts Campaign
“We are pleased the SJC has recognized that this ballot question would usher in an entirely new marijuana edibles market and that voters must be informed of that fact. Under this proposal, the Marijuana Industry would be allowed to promote and sell these highly potent products, in the form of gummy bears and other candies, that are a particular risk for accidental use by kids.” Continue reading
BOSTON – Two child wellness and anti-addiction advocates responded to comments made by marijuana legalization proponents that sought to diminish the harmful impact of the drug.
At a press conference on Friday held by the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, legalization proponents called marijuana a relatively “benign plant.” In response, a letter was sent by a doctor from Children’s Hospital and the Director of the Northshore Recovery High School objecting to those “unfortunate comments that diminished the harms marijuana imposes on our kids.”
“We can have a healthy debate on the issue of legalization,” wrote Dr. Sion Harris and Director Michelle Lipinski. “But the fact that marijuana is addictive and has a negative impact on young people is not debatable.”
“Why would we even tinker with the thought (of legalization) knowing what’s happening to this generation right now?”
By Arianna MacNeill, as published in The Salem News
BEVERLY — While voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana use this fall, the highest rate of users right now is a population that wouldn’t legally be able to buy it, according to the principal of a high school for teens in substance abuse recovery.
Northshore Recovery High School Principal Michelle Lipinski, along with Dr. Sion Harris of Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote a letter to Will Luzier of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, dated April 20, accusing him of “trying to misdirect voters.”
BOSTON – A statewide association of organizations committed to providing behavioral healthcare in Massachusetts has voiced its opposition to the proposed initiative to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
The Association for Behavioral Healthcare (ABH) voted to oppose the ballot referendum last week. ABH represents more than eighty community-based mental health and addiction provider organizations across Massachusetts.
Its members serve approximately 81,000 Massachusetts residents daily and 1.5 million annually.