In consideration of municipal zoning of marijuana uses.

Marijuana Mills Drive Addiction. Resistance is Local.

Manufacturing marijuana addicts through commercialization and legalization.The marijuana lobby and its spokespersons now are actively blaming communities who refuse to support commercial drug use promotion for the black market in marijuana.

And unfortunately, the Boston Globe, Gatehouse Media and other media outlets are buying in.  The Globe’s July 7th, 2018 editorial “Mass. towns need to stop stalling on marijuana rules” is about the uncertainty created for the marijuana industry because of extended moratoriums.  But behind that pretense is the new blame game: saying that communities who choose to refuse to support or promote commercial marijuana/THC are responsible for the marijuana black market.

The notion that all communities should increase marijuana/THC availability and sales because some of them are stuck with it is illogical.  It’s like saying that because Flint has lead in its water, all communities in Michigan should have lead in their water for the sake of social justice.   Both are known neurotoxins to the developing brain.  And both hit vulnerable populations hardest.   And we need less of both neurotoxins in all of our communities.

If the shaky numbers coming out of UMass Amherst for the “marijuana baseline study” (with a survey response rate of 20ish % — too low to be valid)  are anywhere near true, with marijuana use rates at 19%, that number is worrisome and high.  Tobacco use rates have been brought down to 11% in Massachusetts.  The marijuana commercialization lobby is clearly driving a message that is encouraging more marijuana/THC use.  That’s a public health indicator that is moving in precisely the wrong direction.

Remember, the 2016 law specifically provided communities the right to Opt Out.   But they made this process complicated,  burdensome, and expensive.  Opponents of Q4 warned that this new drug sector would target vulnerable communities, as it has in previous marijuana states where 2/3’s of communities who can organize for public health over drug  profits never Opt In to marijuana commercialization.

The 8,500 word 2016 law, written by and for the speculative commercial marijuana/THC product industry,  is responsible for the current confusion in communities about how to control this industry and drug use promotion in cities and town. There will be no help from the Feds or the state for  this new regulatory enforcement burden to cities and towns. That’s why moratoriums are long.  Blaming the victim never works out well.

Municipalities should take as long as needed to strictly regulate or Opt Out on this drug as is their right under the law.

What’s the rush for accommodating increased recreational drug supply and sales in the community environment? The pressure is coming from those that would profit handsomely from heavy problem drug use which now comprises 80% of marijuana consumption in the marijuana states.

The marijuana industry lobby is putting on the full court press now. They have opened an online voter registration drive in Massachusetts to push for more marijuana/THC friendly laws and politicians.

We need to double down now on communications via local news outlets and social media presence.

The Globe may be a dying news organization.  Like the Denver Post in 2012ish, which opened a section called “The Cannabist”, they are looking for paid sponsored content, and eye balls — which is the currency for advertising revenue.

Denver Post ended up laying off most of its staff, including its writers for “The Cannabist”.

This drug use resistance movement will need to continue to be driven by community and neighnorhood leaders and ordinary people, an intertwined root system, relentlessly speaking truth to power.

The cannabis/THC stores are no different than the Pill Mills and “pain clinics” which infected the South with complicated opiate addiction.  These are marijuana/THC product mills.  And they drive addiction.

Please respond and share with your networks.  Every voice of reason counts.

We need to work to preserve Citizen’s rights to maintain community norms which discourage drug use and prevent addiction. 

Use your voice to discourage drug use at the source and prevent substance use disorders.

We don’t need to shame anyone.  We need a voice of reason on addiction prevention, protecting the developing brain,  and avoiding addiction-for-profit industrial sectors. We need to find better ways to address problems of social justice and inequities than pushing more drugs into our community environments. 

Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana — How to “Opt-Out” — An Action Plan

How to Opt Out of Commercial Recreational MarijuanaCommercial Recreational Marijuana Opt-Out Action Plan

UPDATE May 13, 2018: It is becoming increasingly important to act quickly if your community wants any measure of local control over commercialized, recreational marijuana establishments. The temptation to ban just retail establishments and to allow cultivation and testing is to be avoided. If it is believed that the sale of this drug is in keeping with your prevention goals and in conflict with the character of your community, then it is hypocritical to allow it to be grown and taxed in your community and then exported for sale to your neighbors. The pot lobby is actively promoting and over promising possible tax benefits. Oversupply in Oregon has caused a dramatic price collapse. [“How do you move mountains of unwanted weed?”] Taxes are tied to revenue which is tied to price. As prices collapse, so does your tax revenue. Your costs escalate regardless. Your town is likely to get very little in revenue to offset regulation, inspection and enforcement of these establishments, let alone undo ill effects of increased youth and adult use. Where there is more pot, more kids use. Some revenue is not worth taking.

UPDATE: April 20, 2018–Added links to public service announcement, parental advisory ad, local town opt-out page.

UPDATE: November 16, 2017: Updates include addition of the excellent opt-out language passed by Longmeadow; and a link to a video of testimony to Bridgewater Town Council: “Commercial Marijuana Opt Out | What Every Elected Official Should Consider”

UPDATE: October 31, 2017–Having received an interpretation from Beacon Hill we have updated this post to once again advise that both a General Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw with identical language be voted on by your community’s legislative body. Nowhere in the recreational marijuana law does it explicitly require a Zoning Bylaw as the confirming action of a local legislative body. Therefore a General Bylaw, only requiring a simple majority vote (51%) is believed to be sufficient to confirm a community’s desire to Opt-Out or ban recreational marijuana establishments. Zoning Bylaws require a super majority (2/3 affirmative) vote to pass. It is recommended, out of an abundance of caution, that your community in addition to voting a General Bylaw vote on a Zoning Bylaw (after voting on the General Bylaw). Regardless of the outcome of the vote on the Zoning Bylaw, the General Bylaw is expected to be sufficient to uphold an Opt-Out intention of a community.

UPDATE: October 9, 2017–After the passage of House Bill No. 3818 that became the recreational marijuana law in July 2017, the process for opting out of commercial recreational marijuana activity has changed slightly since Westborough became the first of about 30 communities to do so before this compromise law was signed by Governor Baker. A growing number of more than 100 communities have either Opted-Out or have passed moratoriums on recreational, commercial marijuana establishments citing among their reasons:

The law applies differently to each community based on whether that community voted in opposition (No On Q4 Community) or support (Yes on Q4 Community) of ballot Question 4 in November 2016.

Here is our understanding now based on information from the Massachusetts Municipal Association: Continue reading Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana — How to “Opt-Out” — An Action Plan

Why We Opt-Out — The Emerging Narrative on Community Marijuana Opt-Outs

Marijuana commercialization disguised as compassion
Under the guise of compassion and rights lurks an industry bent on creating a market of lifetime users.

It’s time to take our communities back from the national pot lobby.

“Opting Out on marijuana profiteering is Opting In to Community Health and Wellness” 

Important local messaging:

  1. Marijuana IS NOT harmless.  The only people saying marijuana is harmless are those standing to profit from it and those who believe them. Science and medicine tell us otherwise.
  2. Where there’s more pot more people use. Increased supply and commercial access to this drug impacts youth and vulnerable citizens. 80% of marijuana revenue now comes from 20% of heaviest users–this is the definition of an “Addiction-For-Profit” industry.

3. Normalization of marijuana use impacts use rates, school performance and workplace performance. The highest rates of use, across age categories, are where the drug had been commercialized. 

4. Public Health:  Addiction prevention involves community environmental factors that delay and minimize drug exposures, especially to the developing brain through age 25.  But heavy use, daily/near-daily use, and “Cannabis Use Disorder” (addiction) is now a defined substance use disorder in DSM 5 and is a growing public health issue of concern.  Continue reading Why We Opt-Out — The Emerging Narrative on Community Marijuana Opt-Outs

Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana Law Opt Out — Westborough Voter Guide

Opt Out Marijuana Massachusetts Westborough Guide
When voters become educated on the true nature of the predatory industry behind the MA Marijuana Law, they become very concerned about what this industry might do to the character of their communities. Educate, vote, opt out.

VOTE YES to OPT OUT to KEEP OUT Pot Shops:

(download this guide to print & share)

Q&A:

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 Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana Law Opt Out — Westborough Voter Guide

MMA Appeals to State Leadership to Amend Marijuana Law to Protect Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Public Health, Interest and Safety

massachusetts-municipal-association2Update 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.
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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 MMA Appeals to State Leadership to Amend Marijuana Law to Protect Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Public Health, Interest and Safety

When Considering Opting Out of Pot Establishments, Don’t be Confused by the “Pot Bar Provision”

Some communities and many Town Counsels have been confused by MGL Ch.94G, Sec.3 (b) of the Law–the “pot bar provision”. This provision has nothing to do with the process to Opt Out of commercial marijuana establishment land uses in your community.

Continue reading When Considering Opting Out of Pot Establishments, Don’t be Confused by the “Pot Bar Provision”

Federal Law Trumps State & Local Marijuana Laws

Arizona–This amicus brief should send chills up the spines of every elected official (local, state and federal) in the country.
Continue reading Federal Law Trumps State & Local Marijuana Laws

Town of Westborough Approves MMJ Zoning Bylaw

Westborough, Massachusetts–A Medical Marijuana zoning proposal was approved by voters at Town Meeting on March 16, 2013.

The vote was 97-34 in favor of the zoning bylaw.

Continue reading Town of Westborough Approves MMJ Zoning Bylaw