The Marijuana Policy Initiative

Don't Commercialize Marijuana.

A volunteer non-partisan coalition of people from across the US and Canada who have come to understand the negative local-to-global public health and safety implications of an organized, legal, freely-traded, commercialized and industrialized marijuana market.

Massachusetts Commercial Marijuana — How to “Opt Out” — The Westborough Action Plan

Opt-Out Action Plan based on Westborough’s Opt-Out Process

Updated April 15, 2017

  1. Assemble a small group of concerned citizens
    • suggest including active Mothers in your community.
  2. Consult & Educate Town Counsel
    For Westborough Opt-Out, KP Law (Kopelman Paige) is our contracted Town Counsel. They are also counsel to approximately 250 other MA cities and towns. KP Law recommended the Opt-Out process follow a “belt and suspenders” approach with one (1) vote at town ballot vote and two (2) votes at town meeting; see below. Why such a confusing and cumbersome process?
  3. Request agenda item at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting:
    Request to Approve Placing a Question on the (date) Town Ballot and on the (date) Annual Town Meeting Warrant Amending the General Bylaws and another amending Zoning Bylaws

  4. Educate Your Selectmen
    • Put revenue potential into context–Some revenue is not worth taking
    • Remind them of their role as leaders as it relates to messages we wish to send to our citizens and particularly our youth. The message they send in regard to these uses will shape how youth feel about the products being promoted by these uses.

  5. Educate Town Planning Board
    • Educate them on the Precautionary Principle and how it has been used to guide decision making on this issue before. “Act to do the least harm.”
    • Remind them of the purpose of zoning–“prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the “character” of a community.” Remind them of how you see the character of the community.
    • Remind them of their roll as “planners”. This means to act early and out of precaution–rules can be relaxed if the State truly acts to tighten the marijuana law. They are not “reactors”.
    • Potential revenue will be one driver for this group–Show them the money
    • Here is a video of example testimony before the Westborough Planning Board’s March 16, 2017 Meeting
  6. Educate Town Finance Committee
    • Potential revenue will be a big driver for this group–Show them the money and question it’s value in the context of the total budget and the character of the community.
  7. Understand Your Voter Education Needs
    • This is important because voters need to understand the law (mandatory to host unless choose to opt-out, no limit on number of establishments)
    • Does not affect Medical Marijuana–only about Commercial Recreational. Does not affect adults rights to use and possess.
    • “Yes to Opt-Out” is confusing to the voter
    • pot of today: potency, edibles, teen use increases, drugged driving monitoring difficult, links to psychosis, marketing to children
    • 3 independent votes necessary: 1 at town ballot and 2 at Town Meeting ( 1 to amend General Bylaws as well as Zoning Bylaws.
    • Consider adopting Westborough Voter Education Guide
  8. Identify Your Target group of Voters
    • Dedicated Town Meeting Voters–Get list of names and addresses from your Town Clerk records.
    • Target with Post Card mailings (Note: The Lollipop image was purchased from istock. Individual groups should make their own purchase at istock $12 #490476918):
      • Mailing 1 (two weeks before election):
      • Mailing 2 (one week before election):
      • (Note: you can access the editable PowerPoint files for these postcards here for your use).
    • Moms (they care about their children’s health and well-connected in town)
  9. Identify and educate at your community’s centers of activities
  10. Identify a social media contact person
  11. Consider setting up an Opt-Out Facebook Page
    • See Westborough Opt Out on Facebook
  12. Reach dedicated voters, who may be outside mom-network and social media
    • Use Postcard Mailing (see above)
  13. Reach wide social networks through email
    • Consider Using Email (see “Example Emails” at the bottom of this page)
  14. Hold an Educational Info Session
    • Advertise event through local media, cable channel, personal email, social media, and posters.
    • Start with video, “Then and Now”
    • Show all or part of this brain science powerpoint
    • Invite questions and testimony of attendees
    • Empower attendees to spread the word
  15. Reach Out to Faith Community
    • If it’s appropriate in your community, reach out to faith leaders who are very concerned about the addiction epidemic. For example, this statement from the Pontifical Academy of Science was shared with faith leaders in Westborough. Consequently they encouraged parishioners to vote on this issue at the local election and Town Meeting.
  16. For Town Ballot Day: Voter education
  17. For Town Meeting: Communications
    • Consider another postcard mailing
    • Consider Assembling Phone Text Tree: identify those interested in coming to Town meeting to vote but discouraged by the time commitment and send a text alert as to when the articles will be discussed.
  18. Prepare Speakers for Town Meeting
    • Be prepared to stand at Town Meeting and say “I rise in support of this article and in support of opting out of commercial marijuana uses in our town.”
    • Motivate others in your community to prepare comments and speak from their respective areas of experience. In Westborough, we had:
      • Doctors, lawyers, business people, biotech executives, youth and faith leaders, parents of those affected by addiction, just regular parents concerned and trends in our high schools,  local law enforcement and local elected officials.
      • Here are the links to Westborough Town Meeting floor action. Article 32 starts in video Part 3 just after 55.00.
        It continues in video Part 4, with a long technical correction as part of the discussion you can skip ahead to more pro/con testimony.


Additional Education Materials
Fact Sheet

This is America on Legal Drugs. Do we want use rates going up, along with harms?

Marijuana in Colorado: The State of High SAM Educational Briefs & Data on Marijuana Policy, February 2017

Know the Facts: Marijuana Commercialization

Marijuana and Adolescent Brain Development

BONUS: Protecting Our Children’s Future

SMART Colorado – Protect Youth from Commercialized Marijuana

Massachusetts Municipal Association on Local Control under the Massachusetts Marijana Law


Notes and Tips

Educational Session Poster: We used this to advertise our informational session at the library. If we were to do it again, I would suggest removing the OptOut email address. Without the email address, the poster stood as purely educational. With the email address, our informational session was viewed as political and limited are advertising options.

Flyer in Color: distributed at parent pick-up, shopping areas, sporting events, and to approximately 1000-1200 parishioners at all Catholic masses as permitted.
Flyer Front is our information, Flyer Back is an educational piece from SAM.

Signage: printed on core foam 11×17 and attached painter stick as a handle, used on voting day
Two Signs: Keep Out Pot Shops and Opt Out to Keep Out

Posters: used the signage files and printed on 11×17 poster paper

Town Ballot Flyer: We offered this visual reminder (Yes to Opt Out) on voting day; it was helpful for voters to look at, but many didn’t need one in hand. Important point to remember is that any voting materials carried into the voting booth by a voter must be carried out.

The Facebook Page: Initially, our approach was more stealth and controlled, trying to mobilize our dedicated voters (routine voters identified from town records) while not riling our opponents. Postcards and emails were our prime means of communication. Once we saw the right type of interest, and with only four days before the election, we decided to use Facebook to spread the message further. We still chose to pass the message through acquaintances, rather than a general broadcast. A group member developed the page and brought a large group of her followers. The facebook flyer was the original posting, followed by periodic postings of new research or vote education material. It served as an excellent two-way communication tool.


Example Emails

Below is an example of an EMAIL; the EMAIL corresponded to the POSTCARD mailings.
Emails were directed to our individual social circles.
Before sending, emails were tested to be sure they were mobile-phone friendly.
Messaging and word placement could be tricky.

Can You Tell the Difference?

Neither Can Your Child!

Dear Westborough Voter:

Did you know…The Town of Westborough is NOW required by law to host commercial marijuana businesses – unless we
VOTE YES to keep them out?

Think of it…Retail pot shops with attractive, toxic, high-potency THC candies, drinks and food available for accidental ingestion by our children.

This is Westborough’s ONLY CHANCE to keep out commercial marijuana businesses from operating and expanding in our town.

VOTE YES – Keep Out Commercial Marijuana – or They Are HERE to Stay and Grow!

VOTE YES to remove the State mandate requiring the Town of Westborough to host marijuana farms, product mfg., marketing and retail pot shops.

VOTE YES to preserve local control of our business landscape in Westborough. There is no upper limit to the number of businesses.

VOTE YES to honor Westborough’s vote against commercialized pot in Nov. ‘16.

VOTE YES to learn from Colorado’s experience and reduce risks of addiction, suicides, drugged-driving, overdoses and accidental, underage ingestion of toxic, high-potency pot edibles in the form of candies, foods & beverages.

VOTE YES to send a clear message that Westborough remains a #1 Family-Friendly Town. (Family Circle, 2013.)

Please Vote at Both Town Election and Town Meeting
We encourage you to vote at both:
Town Election on March 7th and
Town Meeting on March 18th
Voting takes place at Westborough High School.

Learn More: A Live Presentation – COMMERCIALIZING POT: The Big Tobacco of the 21st Century
March 1st 7:00-8:30pm
Town Library Meeting Room

Email: for questions and information.

Share: Share this email and resources widely with family, friends and social media contacts!

Thank You for Keeping Westborough Safe, Strong and Healthy!

Another example of an EMAIL. Here we incorporated the ballot language, which we thought was key. We were asking the voters to come out to vote on two separate occasions and the ballot question was counter intuitive. It was a lot of information to digest.

Dear Westborough Voters:

Thanks to all who came to our Commercialization of Marijuana Info Session and heard the insights of State Representative Hannah Kane; Stephanie Hubbard, former Colorado resident; Jody Hensley, community advocate; and commentary from health care professionals and policy advocates on the new Massachusetts Marijuana Law and its effects on the citizens of Westborough.
Attendees were shocked to learn the predatory tactics of this “addiction-for-profit” industry and the real risks to our community.

Thanks to Westborough TV, the Info Session video is here to view and share widely:

Many of you asked how to help. Here are suggestions and resources attached:
2. Help Hold Signs at the Town Election- Tuesday, March 7th. Sign-Up: (insert SignUp Genius link here)
3. Share Westborough TV Videos:
Commercialization of Marijuana:
Interview with Police Chief Gordon:
4. Share Facts. New flyers, Q&A and Ballot Question preview:

Shall the Town prohibit the operation of all types of marijuana establishments, as defined in [G.L…], including marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, product manufacturers, retailers, or any other type of licensed marijuana related marijuana businesses within the Town of Westborough. Yes _X__ No ______

5. Spread the Word… See Sample FB Post for your social media friends
6. Questions?
Remember to Vote at Both Town Election and Town Meeting:
DATES: Tuesday, March 7th 8am – 8pm – Town Election
Saturday, March 18th – 1 pm – Town Meeting
We Encourage You to Vote on BOTH days
PLACE: Westborough High School

Thank you for your interest and support… and mostly, for your YES vote on March 7th and March 18th!
And thank you for doing all you can do to keep Westborough safe, strong and healthy!

p.s. Can you help pass out flyers? Please reply if you can help us!
p.s.s. If at any time you wish to “opt out” of these emails, I am happy to accommodate! Thank you so very much!


Category: Uncategorized