Marijuana dispensaries remain a tough sell in many communities
The Boston Globe - By. Kay Lazar - 10/03/2016
In Hopkinton, the Board of Selectmen proclaimed that a medical marijuana dispensary simply wouldn’t fit the town’s family-oriented image, and voted against a proposed store.
In Seekonk, town leaders fretted that dispensaries would bring crime and an onslaught of marijuana smokers to their community, prompting two companies to withdraw their plans.
In Southborough, selectmen faced intense backlash after saying yes to a dispensary, prompting passage of more restrictive new zoning rules.
Four years after Massachusetts residents — including voters in Hopkinton, Seekonk, and Southborough — overwhelmingly approved legalizing marijuana for medical use, dispensaries have become the ultimate not-in-my-backyard symbol in many towns.
Just seven dispensaries have cleared local hurdles and opened since voters backed medical marijuana in 2012. Yet the law put no restrictions on the number of dispensaries allowed after the first year.
“Virtually every applicant I have worked with has been rejected in one town or another. The smart applicant is working five to seven towns simultaneously,” said Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures, a marijuana consulting and investment company.
Usually, a community’s veto of a dispensary is no more complex than this: Residents just don’t want a store distributing cannabis, Krane said.
“I have a lot of sympathy for these towns,” he said. “A lot of these towns are small, with selectmen who are . . . facing a lot of neighborhood opposition.”
The intensity of community resistance took the chairman of Southborough’s Board of Selectmen, Brian Shea, by surprise.
Nearly two-thirds of the community’s residents approved legalizing medical marijuana when they voted on the 2012 state initiative.
So Shea assumed residents would be in favor of a dispensary. He personally opposes medical marijuana, but said he voted in February to allow a dispensary to open in Southborough, figuring he was following the will of town voters.
“I have not received one bit of applause for my vote,” Shea said. Friends have told him that when they voted to legalize medical marijuana, they never thought it was destined for their town.
After selectmen approved the first dispensary, citizens banded together to make it much harder for any more marijuana shops to come to town.
Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, said the local review process required in the state licensing system has left much of the state without any dispensaries.
“Comments by local officials are enough to discredit the medical marijuana program to the point that other companies don’t want to locate [in a town], and the patients are the ones ultimately losing out,” Snow said.
The state process for licensing medical marijuana dispensaries was overhauled in June 2015 by the administration of Governor Charlie Baker. Officials said the new system stripped away the subjectivity, secrecy, and inefficiencies at the state level that had mired it under his predecessor, Deval Patrick.
But it had an unintended consequence: It gave communities almost absolute veto power over dispensaries.
The revamped system requires each company that wants to open a dispensary to receive the blessing of a community’s governing body, typically the board of selectmen or city council, before a license application can move forward.
State records show that 40 percent of applications filed since the new system started are still in the phase that requires a local letter of support or, at the very least, a letter stating that community leaders are not opposed to a dispensary. Another 21 percent have not made it this far.
But the state Health Department, which regulates the program, said its overhaul eased the old bottleneck, helping more companies move ahead in the process. A spokesman said the new system “values the voice of local communities,” and was tailored largely in response to municipal leaders.
When Hopkinton selectmen voted against a dispensary in December, they didn’t cite neighborhood objections. Their concern was broader than that.
“Unfortunately, the town you are coming to — this just does not fit our self-image,” Ben Palleiko, the board’s chairman, told the applicants, according to the town’s videotape of the meeting.
JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF
Chuck Grant displayed his medical marijuana that he picked up from a dispensary in Salem.
Nearly a year later, not much has changed, and no other applicants have applied, said the board’s vice chairman, John Coutinho. “I don’t want to speak for everybody,” Coutinho said, “but I don’t see the town opening that door.”
Valerio Romano, a Boston attorney who represented the company that applied in Hopkinton, said he has had several clients face similarly stiff opposition in other communities.
He blamed misinformation about perceived problems, such as crime and lax security, linked to medical marijuana dispensaries.
Concerns about security were raised by Seekonk selectmen in May, when Romano outlined plans by one of his clients for a dispensary there. And they were also suspicious about the state’s system for registering patients to use marijuana.
“I understand, 100 percent, the benefits [of marijuana] for individuals who are sick,” said Seekonk Board of Selectmen chairman David Andrade. “It’s the ease of which some of these cards are obtained, or prescribed, that I have the issue with, myself, personally.’’
As the selectmen’s discomfort with medical marijuana became clear, Romano ended the presentation, saying he would not ask the board to vote on the company’s proposal.
Romano’s client was the second medical marijuana company in less than a year to walk away from Seekonk.
The 2016 Boston Freedom Rally Prepares For Question 4
ReLeaf Media - By. Mike Perry - 09/14/2016
During the third weekend of September, the 17th and 18th this year, the 27th annual Boston Freedom Rally will be taking place once again on the Boston Common. This year, MassCann will be putting on the most important and historic Freedom Rally to date. The Rally’s main focus this year is getting out the information and knowledge Massachusetts voters need to be able to answer Question 4 on the November 4th ballot-wether or not to tax and regulate cannabis within the state of Massachusetts.
The Boston Freedom Rally, also known as “Hempfest”, is the second largest cannabis activism gathering in the country and always gives it’s participants a fantastic, informative and safe weekend filled with positive uplifting vibes and thousands of likeminded people joining together to end cannabis prohibition.
Bill Downing of MassCann and organizer of the Freedom Rally is very excited about Question 4 being on the ballot and says attendees can expect “The biggest and best Freedom Rally ever” and told us to expect “beautiful music, beautiful people, beautiful smiles, beautiful glass, useful info, contacts, dancing, relaxing, eating and more.”
There will be two stages of music, speakers, and activism as well as a cannabis education village, vendors, and delicious food Saturday 12-8p & Sunday 12-6p.
The education village will be a main resource for all voters and legislators to be educated on eight important areas of concern so they can be properly informed for election day. It is with high hopes these discussions will teach something new to their visitors and sway them to be in favor of taxing and regulating cannabis in Massachusetts.
The eight pop up tents will each be discussing the important issues titled “Prohibition is Destroying Our Communities,” “Activism Helps,” “Repair the Community,” “Support Groups,” “Cannabis is Human Kinds Manhattan Project,” “Cannabis is an Essential Health Supplement,” “Recipes on How to Grow, Make, and Take,” “Your Own Medicine,” and “Spirituality, Peace, and Love.” There will also be a tent for panel discussions that will also be streamed live on masscann.com.
The music this year is enough alone to draw an incredible amount of people down to the Boston Common. Both stages will have dozens of artists in various genres performing the length of the Rally. There will be a good amount of reggae performances this year, as well as a “Rave on the Common” with DJ Julee + DJ Leah headlining on Saturday and Hip Hop legends Method Man and Redman will be the headliners Sunday. The lineup has something for everyone at every point of gathering.
One of the premier sponsors of the event this year is Greenleaf Magazine. We have Real One flying in from California. He is one of the top hip hop artists supporting cannabis,” said Brett Cogill of Greenleaf Magazine. “We are also very excited for the 65k people that will come out to support our cause. Boston George from the famous movie “BLOW” will be at our booth signing autographs as well.”
There will be countless vendors with booths all over the common promoting, selling, and informing visitors of their place in the culture and cannabis industry. There are always newcomers to learn about and old favorites to revisit. You’ll be sure to leave with plenty of new friends, contacts, and a great state of mind from being around so many likeminded people.
Scott Bettano, founder of Social High, is a major sponsor of the Freedom Rally this year and expects it to be huge and very important. “We are most excited about the anticipated turn out and energy of the crowd. We decided to get involved with big sponsorship this year for a few reasons. First off, Boston is our home and always will be. We very proud to be part of the Cannabis Culture in Massachusetts and the associated start-up community. That being said, this is an important time for not only the State of Massachusetts, but the Cannabis movement as a whole. We wanted to do our part in helping bring out the crowd to the Freedom Rally and educate as many people as possible on the benefits of Voting Yes on Question 4.”
Scott remarks, “We think it's important people know these benefits and understand their vote has the ability to foster positive change come November. We are very grateful to MassCann for allowing us to get involved to make that happen. With the board behind us and the team of Co-sponsors in Boston Smoke Shop, Xperience Creative and The Hardy Consultants, this year promises to be possibly the biggest rally to date!”
You can download Social High on Android or IOS to find a smoke buddy for this year’s Rally!
Bill Downing also gave us some useful tips for everyone heading into the city.
”Arrive stoned. If it's sunny, bring sunglasses and sun screen. It's always nice to have a blanket, but many just sit on the grass. The vending area gets crammed in the late afternoon. Get there early, if you want a more relaxed shopping experience. Booze on the Common is not cool. Bring something for the 4:20 celebration and share it. Boston cops can be a pain in the ass, but the Park Rangers are cool, for the most part. Parking is available under the Common, entrance on Charles Street (one way). The flat rate for Saturday and Sunday is $18.00. The height limit is 6’, 3”. The garage fills up quickly after 10am.”
Make it down to the Boston Common the 17th + 18th and come together to vocalize with thousands that we want an end to marijuana prohibition and we want a yes from all on Question 4.
Why marijuana legalization in liberal Mass. might be a tough sell
Boston.com - By. Adam Vaccaro - 9/6/2016
Deep-blue Massachusetts has a recent history of marijuana-friendly votes. In 2008, voters turned out in droves at the ballot box to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of pot. Four years later, advocates were rewarded with a landslide victory to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
The third act is set for November, when Massachusetts voters will be asked whether they want to legalize marijuana and permit retail sales in the near future. Supporters say the initiative would treat marijuana similarly to alcohol, replacing today’s vibrant illegal market with one overseen by the government and creating a new source of tax revenue for the state.
The last two votes have been widely seen as reason for confidence in the pro-pot campaign, coming in successive presidential elections, which traditionally have higher turnout of marijuana-friendly young voters. Successful pushes to legalize marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon since 2012 have also been encouraging.
But since the spring, things haven’t looked quite as hot for local pot advocates.
The most recent polling has suggested Massachusetts voters may be having second thoughts about full legalization ahead of the fall’s campaign. In May, one poll found a 46-43 percent advantage for the opposition. Another poll in July found a 10-point lead for the ‘no’ crowd.
“I was surprised by the last two polls,” said Steve Koczela, president at the MassINC Polling Group. “The trend did seem pretty clear.”
There are caveats, of course. Prior to the recent polls, data in Massachusetts and across the country indicated widespread support for legalization and seemed to suggest a layup at the ballot this year. As recently as April, a poll showed 57-35 percent support for passing the proposed law.
Koczela cautioned that ballot question polling is volatile and can swing wildly, especially before ads start airing and the campaigns really swing into gear.
And Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the pro-legalization Yes on 4 campaign, said both surveys may have under-sampled the young voters that his campaign is relying on. The May poll was also within the 4.4 percentage-point margin of error, meaning that it doesn’t even really show advocates to be trailing in the first place.
It does, however, portend a close race. Even to Borghesani, the dispute over Question 4 is not shaping up to be the kind of blowout advocates saw in 2008 and 2012.
“We know this race is going to be close,” he said. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We never have.”
And recent polling aside, those following the issues see a number of factors that could make the legalization, regulation, sale, and taxation of marijuana in liberal Massachusetts a harder sell than you might think.
Ballot question campaigns generally face an uphill battle because a vote for ‘yes’ means something has to change. If a voter isn’t certain about an issue, he or she may is more likely to default to ‘no.’ And despite Massachusetts’ reliably liberal voting record, the state also has a well-worn reputation for skepticism about change.
Opposition campaigns can be successful by zeroing in on specific language within the law, Koczela said.
“The thing that ‘no’ sides often do is add complexity,” Koczela said. He pointed to a 2012 initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which saw a polling swing in 2012 before failing amid questions about specific provisions.
Indeed, that does seem to be the strategy of the opposition group – a bipartisan, politically potent campaign backed by officials including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
“What we are asking voters to do is not think of this as the concept of legalization, but think of and vote on a very specific proposal at a specific time,” Corey Welford, a spokesman for the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, said in a May podcast with CommonWealth magazine.
In short, the law would:
- Legalize marijuana use and possession by 2017 for those aged 21 and older;
- Establish a new state commission to oversee the industry;
- Allow for licensed retail stores to open by 2018;
- Impose a 3.75 percent excise on top of the state sales tax, plus additional municipal taxes;
- And permit individuals to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household for personal use.
But there’s plenty of room for opponents to harp on specifics of the ballot initiative, which is 24 pages long.
The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts points to the fact that the law would allow for the sale of edible marijuana, arguing it could come in the form of candies, cookies, or beverages — and thus make pot more attractive to children. (Broader concerns about young people’s welfare have been a common theme of the campaign, though data out of Colorado has not shown a clear effect on teen usage.)
By way of a rebuttal, the pro-pot contingent says the law will allow a new regulatory body to ban edible products or packaging that is too child-friendly. The opposition retorts that if that was the intent of the law, it would be explicitly included in its text.
At that point, the debate reaches something of a stalemate — but it plays to the opposition’s advantage to be so deep in the weeds rather than talking about legalization as a broader concept.
Koczela thinks it’s possible the opposition also got a polling bounce from organized opposition from high-profile politicians. The two recent figures showing more support for the ‘no’ side came after the state’s political power players formally launched their campaign.
“The last two were done as the ‘no’ side kicked into gear,” Koczela said. “So that certainly may have something to do with it.”
Sure, the pro-pot campaign has collected a few city councilors, a Western Massachusetts mayor, 10 state legislators (most of whom occupy the progressive wing of the state’s Democratic party), and a former governor (Bill Weld, who is running for vice president on a pro-legalization ticket with the Libertarian party) in its corner. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal leader of national prominence, has not endorsed legalization but said in a statement that she is “open to the idea” because of the lack of regulation in the current illegal market.
But the opposition has the clear numerical advantage in terms of elected officials. In addition to Baker, Walsh, DeLeo, and Healey, nearly 120 other state legislators have come out in opposition.
Borghesani, with the pro-pot campaign, notes that high-profile politicians – including the governor and the mayor of Boston – opposed the 2008 and 2012 votes, and came out on the losing end of routs. Koczela also suggested that if the polls did in fact respond to the formal unveiling of the opposition campaign, it may ultimately prove to have been a temporary shift, almost like the bounce presidential candidates get from party conventions.
Even Walsh, who plans to be active around the issue through the fall, has some doubts that he will have much of an effect on the outcome.
“I think campaigning’s important, but I think a lot of people will make their minds up for themselves,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think Marty Walsh or somebody else is going to sway them. … Do they want to create a marijuana industry in Massachusetts? Do they feel that Massachusetts needs a marijuana industry or not?”
Some marijuana reform advocates worry that, with several states trying to legalize this election year, fundraising could present another obstacle.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a national political organization that has long pushed reform initiatives, is also behind legalization campaigns in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada.
That’s in stark contrast with the last presidential election in 2012. Though two states legalized marijuana, only Colorado’s initiative was backed by MPP. With five state ballot questions – not to mention three other medical marijuana questions in other states – some activists are concerned that MPP could be stretched too thin this election cycle.
“There’s only so much resources and staff time in the movement,” said Tom Angell, who runs the advocacy group Marijuana Majority. “Only so much money that can go toward putting ads in the air.”
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for MPP, pish-poshed that particular worry.
“Regardless of what year it is, or how many initiatives there may be, we only pursue initiatives when it’s clear that there is clear public support for the proposal,” he said. “And we’re confident that we’re going to be able to run a strong campaign. So whether there are five other initiatives on a ballot or no others, it really comes down to whether there’s strong support for the law we’re proposing.”
But the local pro-legalization camp does admit that fundraising has its challenges this year. Borghesani said he doesn’t think the problem is the number of states on the ballot, but rather that Massachusetts’s own liberal reputation may cause potential donors to see legalization as inevitable and not in need of money.
In a recent national fundraising email, Troy Dayton, a MPP board member who also runs a pot industry investment network, cited both ideas when listing reasons why all of the campaigns across the country are “underfunded.”
“1. Marijuana has never been on 8 ballots at the same time so the total amount needed to be raised is more than has ever been raised for this issue,” he wrote. “2. The media has done a good job of leading people to believe legalization is inevitable when it is not. This creates a false sense of security for supporters.”
Additionally, pot advocates across the country have been growing frustrated with the businesses seeking to get in on the legal market that aren’t pitching in enough money.
“[A]ny business that budgets zero dollars for political change is being silly because marijuana is actually illegal,” Rob Kampia, MPP’s executive director, told VICE earlier this summer.
Yes on 4 hopes to raise $3 million ahead of November and has already booked some ad space, Borghesani said. The funding situation for the opposition is unclear, as the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts declined to name a fundraising target and has not publicly discussed its donors. Both sides must file campaign finance disclosures with the state in early September, which will provide the first insight into the race’s financial situation since last winter.
Sam Tracy, who works for the marijuana business consultancy 4Front Ventures, which has donated office space to the legalization campaign, has one other worry about national political dynamics and how they could affect the state’s pot race.
While past Massachusetts ballot questions have been aligned with presidential races, in part to take advantage of the heightened number of young voters, Tracy theorizes that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are each so disliked by young people that those voters may stay at home to the detriment of the legalization bid.
“Youth turnout [is] going to have to come down to getting people excited about this question specifically,” he said. “Youth is our strongest demographic.”
Koczela, the MassINC pollster, said the unpopularity of the major party candidates might “numb” turnout a bit, but doesn’t see it as a major challenge to the question’s viability.
“It’s certainly better than having it in a midterm,” he said.
In other words, even with sagging polls, there’s no time like the present for pro-pot forces. For that matter, there’d also likely be no other time soon if the effort falls short. The Massachusetts constitution bars ballot questions that are “substantially the same as any measure” that previously failed at the polls from appearing before voters again for six years.
Top Travel Tips for the Boston Freedom Rally
Cannabis Now - By. Jimi Devine - 8/31/2016
If you’re looking to head out to Boston for America’s second largest cannabis gathering at theBoston Freedom Rally this weekend, it would be wise to plan ahead. There will be plenty of fun to be had, and with these helpful pointers you’ll be able to get a “heady” start on the protest plans.
The MBTA is without a doubt the easiest way to get into Boston Common on the weekends. Boston was planned around cow paths and it shows during busy traffic periods downtown. You can take the MBTA Red Line to Boylston Station and upon exiting the station you’ll be at the rally’s second stage closer to downtown at Parkman Bandstand. Exiting the train at Park Station is fine also and following the main trail will bring you to the heart of the event. For those traveling from points further North and South, the Commuter Rail is an excellent option and you’ll still spend less even with a subway transfer than you would paying to park downtown.
Boston is ranked as the worst city in Americas to drive a car and part of the issue is the parking problem. After you brave Interstate 93 or the Mass Pike head towards Boston Common. If you’re lucky The Boston Common Garage will not be full, but don’t bet on it. There will be other options available much of the time, but prices will rise quickly. Plan on bringing $50 for parking costs if you’re attending both days of the rally.
Few cities in the U.S. are as saturated in history as Boston. The Freedom Rally’s centralized location provides for a perfect launch point to explore a bit downtown. If you get the opportunity, burning one down and hitting the city’s famed Freedom Trail is an absolute must. The first seven stops of the trail are within steps of the common’s grassy fields.
New England Weather
When the Freedom Rally was founded all those years ago, organizers chose the third weekend in September due to the lighter chance of rain according to the Farmers Almanac. While success has been on their side most of the time, bring a cheap rain poncho and light sweater for the evening. If it does rain stick around embrace it, some of the most famed sessions in the history of Boston Common have happened in downpours under tents.
If you’re in the market for a new bowl or rig, the Freedom Rally will be a great spot to shop. Many local glass blowers will be on hand selling their wares, more often then not at prices head shops won’t be able to match. Plan on buying early though, the nicest stuff will most likely be picked off by midday Saturday.
Bring your own. In recent years folks thought to be distributing cannabis have been the main target for undercover officers. While things have cooled off with the passage of decriminalization and medical ballot measures over the past decade, you’re better off not risking it. Remember, the city’s current administration in leading the charge against an adult-use ballot initiative this fall alongside the governor.
Boston sportscasting icon Bob Lobel is one of the hundreds of patients in Massachusetts who say they have found an effective substitute for opioids by using medicinal marijuana.
The 71-year-old longtime television reporter and anchor has dealt with chronic pain for years, the result of numerous surgeries: He’s had two knee replacements, two rotator cuff surgeries, four back surgeries and, in separate accidents, fractured the tops of both femurs.
“That was brutal,” Lobel told the Herald, referencing the femur breaks. The constant pain left him taking a variety of opioids.
“My issue was strictly pain,” he said. “I didn’t want to take any more OxyContin or oxycodone or Percocet, for a variety of reasons. The biggest thing I was worried about was addiction. But they also made me tired and it was hard to function and I couldn’t go on TV all drugged up.”
Lobel said pure curiosity led him to check out a medical marijuana event several months ago at the Castle at Park Plaza in Boston. It was there he met Dr. Uma Dhanabalan of the Uplifting Health and Wellness clinic in Natick. Dhanabalan recommends patients for medicinal marijuana certificates in Massachusetts and has been a strong advocate for using cannabis as a way to treat those who might otherwise find themselves hooked on opioids.
“She told me medical marijuana could be used for pain reduction and I said, ‘Hey, sign me up,’ ” Lobel said, adding that he had been trying to manage his pain with over-the-counter meds after committing to no longer taking opioids. “I wanted to at least try it. I wasn’t interested in getting high, that’s not the goal, believe me. It was really about helping with the pain, and it did.”
Lobel’s daughter lives outside of Portland, Ore., and set up an appointment for him to consult with a doctor there this summer. He flew out and met the qualifications for receiving a medicinal marijuana card. After getting his card, he was able to buy the cannabis. He said the whole process in Oregon took three days, but he is still waiting to get his medical marijuana card in Massachusetts.
“I don’t want to have to fly across the country and deal with drug-sniffing dogs at the airport, I want to do everything legally here,” Lobel said. “I just have to wait and get my card.”
In the meantime, Lobel says, he has been using the medical marijuana he got in Oregon to “take the edge off” of his pain. He doesn’t smoke, but instead prefers to use cannabis oil, which can be orally ingested, vaporized into the lungs, or applied topically. He also has tried forms of edible cannabis, such as candies or cookies, and says he doesn’t need to take the drug every day.
Getting past the stigma of the word “marijuana” has been part of the learning process, he said.
“It’s more than a reasonable alternative (to opioids) once you get past the stigma like you’re under a railroad bridge smoking pot,” Lobel said. “It’s not perfect, and I still need to learn more about what works best for me. I just feel like it’s a positive once you get past the word ‘marijuana.’
“I am not saying it’s the be-all and end-all,” he added. “But, in terms of pain relief … it really helps.”
Lobel spent many years as a sports anchor and reporter for WBZ-TV and has called games for the Celtics and Bruins as well as the Boston Marathon and numerous other events. He’s retired, but still teaches a few days a week at Salem State University and hosts a show called “Sports Legends of New England.” He said he will continue to learn more about medicinal marijuana and use his daughter as a caregiver and resource.
“The whole range of what’s available is incredible,” he said. “When (former Red Sox pitcher) Bill Lee was talking about marijuana and his brownies back in the ’70s, he wasn’t kidding. He was just ahead of his time.”
By John Laidler
Four communities south of Boston could soon become the hosts of medical marijuana businesses, as groups across Massachusetts bid for the final approvals they need to enter the state’s fledgling pot industry.
Ermont is seeking to open a combined medical marijuana dispensary and growing facility in Quincy, while In Good Health is attempting to locate a combined facility in Brockton.
MassMedicum, meanwhile, seeks to locate a cultivation site in Holbrook to serve its proposed dispensary in Taunton, while the William Noyes Webster Foundation seeks to locate a growing site in Plymouth to serve its planned dispensary in Dennis.
All told, the state Department of Public Health has granted provisional certificates for 15 dispensaries under the 2012 ballot law legalizing medical marijuana. Groups can gain final certificates to begin growing and selling once the DPH determines their facilities meet safety and other standards and they have secured all needed local permits.
The groups are bidding to reach the finish line even as a new administration is preparing to take office, raising the possibility of changes to the process.
Governor-elect Charlie Baker said last Tuesday that he wants to “figure out what to do” about implementation of the state’s medical marijuana law, terming it “problematic,” according to a report by the Statehouse News Service. Baker said that the process was more than a year behind schedule and that he was respectful that many patients have been waiting, the service reported.
In Quincy, Ermont would house its facility in 34,000 square feet of leased space in a commercial building on Ricciuti Drive, said its spokeswoman, Donna Rheaume. She said Ermont projects it would cultivate roughly 1,200 pounds of cannabis and serve about 2,000 patients in its first year.
“Right now, we are moving through the regulatory process with DPH,” Rheaume said, with a goal of opening the dispensary in late fall or early winter.
Ermont received a special permit from Quincy in October, according to Christopher Walker, spokesman for Mayor Thomas P. Koch. City officials and the group are finalizing a host agreement under which it would annually provide Quincy with 3 percent of its gross revenues, up to $500,000, to mitigate for the impact of its operation.
“They’ve been terrific to deal with,” Walker said of Ermont, noting that the group “clearly understood the city’s concerns and wishes, and to date they’ve followed through on addressing the issues the city has requested of them,” primarily involving safety and security.
In Brockton, In Good Health would house its operation in 16,000 square feet it is subleasing in a building at 1200 West Chestnut St. The group, which hopes to open in April, has its local permits and is now renovating its space, according to its spokesman, David Ball. It expects to serve 500 clients the first year.
Brockton and In Good Health are finalizing an agreement in which the group would annually pay the city 3 percent of its gross income, or at least $100,000, and another 1 percent to nonprofits in the city that serve people with substance-abuse problems.
MassMedicum would locate its Holbrook growing site in a 30,000-square-foot portion of a warehouse on Mear Road in an industrial area, and its dispensary in a planned 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot building in an east Taunton industrial park, according to Dr. James Kurnick, a spokesman for the group.
Kurnick said MassMedicum hopes to begin construction at both of its sites before the end of the winter, with a goal of opening the dispensary next September. The group is now consulting with the Holbrook Police Department on its planned security system as part of its application for a building permit for the work in Holbrook. In Taunton, it will be seeking a special permit.
MassMedicum signed a host agreement with Holbrook and is finalizing a similar one with Taunton. They call for each town to receive 2.5 percent, or up to $4 million, of the group’s annual gross sales, and then 3.75 percent of the gross sales above the $4 million figure.
Holbrook Town Administrator William J. Phelan said selectmen support the planned growing facility, believing that any negative impact would be “negligible” and that the town will benefit from the estimated $100,000 it would receive in annual payments.
In Plymouth, meanwhile, the William Noyes Webster Foundation seeks to grow its product in 19,000 square feet of leased space in a building on Industrial Park Road. The dispensary would be located in 2,400 square feet in a Dennis building.
The foundation had proposed housing its dispensary and growing facilities in separate sites in Dennis, but switched to the Plymouth site for the growing because its greater size would allow for more of the product to be cultivated in town, according to the group’s attorney, Valerio Romano.
The group reached a host agreement with Plymouth that would annually provide the town with up to $300,000 in different combined payments. It is currently developing an agreement with Dennis. Romano said the group is pursuing its permits in both towns with the hope of opening for business in the late summer or fall of next year.
Plymouth Town Manager Melissa Arrighi said there is overall support in town for the proposed growing facility. She said a general view was that “this was medically needed . . . that it was not recreational,” referring to medical marijuana.
VIA Boston Globe
Determined not to loose velocity for the 2013 Boston Freedom Rally, MassCann publicly posts the history of obstacles they've faced year after year to keep the Boston Freedom Rally alive.
Boston Freedom Rally History
The Boston Freedom Rally is an annual event in Boston, Massachusetts. Held on the third Saturday in September, it is traditionally the second largest annual gathering demanding marijuana law reform in the United States, after the Seattle Hempfest. It is organized by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN), the Massachusetts state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws also known as MASS CANN/NORML.
The first Freedom Rally was held in 1989 in North Adams, Massachusetts. The second was on the dock beside the USS Constitution in 1990. The third was held in front of the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street and the fourth, in 1992, was held on Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand. In 1995 the Freedom Rally moved to its current location across the Common on the Carty Parade Field, except for in 2007, when the Carty Parade Field was being re sodded. In 2009, music returned to the Parkman Bandstand when we added a second stage. The Carty Stage continues to be our “main” stage, while the Parkman Stage is our “second” stage.
Boston Common is America’s oldest public ground and the place where rights to free speech and assembly were first established. Since 1992 MASS CANN/NORML’s Freedom Rally has been held on Boston Common. The city of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Thomas Menino, has tried to stop the Freedom Rally by denying MASS CANN/NORML their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
MASS CANN/NORML won an injunction forcing the City of Boston to issue a permit for their 1997 rally. After many years of abuse from petty parks officials regarding the permitting process; the city’s unconstitutional demands for cash and limits imposed on MASS CANN/NORML to the exclusion of all others (such as a limit of 10,000 attendees and 8 food vendors) forced MASS CANN/NORML into court. In granting the injunction Judge Cratsley described MASS CANN/NORML’s attempts to get permits as a, “… tortured history.”
Also in 1997, in an act of obvious spite, the City sued MASS CANN/NORML and its president for $17,000 in damages to the Common and fines. MASS CANN/NORML had already paid the amount the city had asked for, almost $2,000, to clean the Common. The city decided to sue MASS CANN/NORML rather than bother to even ask them for the money. MASS CANN/NORML counter-sued pointing out that the City’s suit was prima facieevidence of the City’s continued interference despite the injunction. Both suits were summarily dismissed.
The 1998 rally permit process was similarly litigious. Massachusetts Superior Court hearings before Judge Carol Ball began in July, purposefully early to forefend a last minute rush. At the first hearing the City was ordered to produce a list of requirements MASS CANN/NORML would be have to meet in order to receive a permit. At the second hearing the judge told the City their requirements didn’t meet constitutional muster, ordered them to issue a permit, but mentioned that restrictions that were not unconstitutional were permissible./p>
The City issued a permit with many restrictions MASS CANN/NORML could or would not meet. The judge heard arguments and ordered all the restrictions MASS CANN/NORML could or would not acquiesce to be dropped. MASS CANN/NORML moved for summary judgment and the 1997 and 1998 suits were consolidated. On March 7, 2002 Justice Allan van Gestel found in MASS CANN/NORML’s favor and awarded a judgment of over $31,000.
Swinging at strike three in 2008, the city of Boston issued a permit for the nineteenth Freedom Rally that sought to illegally cut-off funding for the event by directing donations from food vendors at the rally away from MASS CANN/NORML and to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston instead. Again, on September 18, 2008, ACLU pro-bono attorney John Swomley testified in support of an injunction at a hearing before Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Carol Ball (who had granted the 1997 injunction). The city attorney presented no evidence and no written testimony. Judge Ball was very unhappy with the city’s permitting restrictions and while granting the injunction told the city attorney, “You people must be crazy.”
Your Right Seems Like a Real F*&%ing mess Jake.
And maybe not waiting til 9 days before a giant event people have paid thousands of dollars planning around may not be the best way to file for city permits.
Call us bitter....
Mass. Govt. 1 - BFR 0
New Zoning Needed for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Boston
Boston will be updating its zoning code to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in specific areas around the city.
By David Ertischek
Now Boston has to figure out where the medical marijuana dispensaries will be within the city.
District 5 City Councilor Rob Consalvo led the charge at Wednesday's Boston City Council meeting, saying while they don't know how many facilities the city will get yet, it's clear they will get some.
"I’m proposing what we do regularly - update our zoning code," Consalvo said. "This will be my seventh effort of amending the zoning code. Clearly this is a new use and a new change in front of us."
But first the state needs to provide regulations, "We don’t know how the state regulations will take place, we are waiting for the Department of Health to have those new regulations in the New Year," Consalvo added.
The matter was moved to the Committee on Government Operations, for the code to be developed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, while working with the state and city's health departments, the Boston Police, as well as residents. A hearing is expected to be held in the next 10 days to develop the zoning changes.
Consalvo said there is nothing in the current zoning code that addresses medical marijuana facilities. Issues such as what stores will look like, how medical marijuana will be sold, and more still need to addressed.
Due to it being medicinal marijuana, Consalvo suggested dispensaries should be zoned into hospital areas, to make it a one-stop shop for patients. He added dispensaries should not go in residential neighborhoods, parks or playgrounds, near schools or daycare facilities.
"Without anything in place they could open up anywhere and we’ll get lots of calls. We need to move fast and be ahead of the curve," said Consalvo.
He called for a hearing to be held in the next 10 days to get to work on the issue.
Question 3 seeks to legalize medical marijuana
BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER The Salem News
Advocates say the ballot initiative is aimed at granting legal access to a marijuana in a safe and secure manner, so that patients with chronic pain or other illnesses can benefit from its use and not suffer the stigma of feeling like criminals.
Some in law enforcement and drug prevention are concerned that the initiative would provide a backdoor supply from the dispensaries, bolster use and dependency among young people, and increase crime associated with marijuana trafficking.
“The issue is very important from a public health standpoint,” said Peg Sallade, coordinator for the DanversCares prevention coalition. As a public employee, she cannot advocate for or against Question 3, but she said she is allowed to educate the public.
One of the concerns is that if Question 3 passes, young people may no longer perceive marijuana as an illegal drug.
“When we call an illegal drug a medicine, it creates a false impression among young people it’s safe to use,” Sallade said.
Even if the state ballot measure passes, however, the federal government still considers marijuana illegal.
“Regardless of state laws to the contrary,” according to the website for the Marijuana Resource Center of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “there is no such thing as ‘medical’ marijuana under federal law. Marijuana continues to be a Schedule I substance, meaning that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is strongly opposed to Question 3.
“Until the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society supports smoked marijuana as a legitimate medical remedy, and it receives FDA approval like all other medications, it is my opinion that the medical marijuana ballot initiative is nothing less than an effort to legalize a potentially dangerous and addictive drug,” Blodgett said through spokeswoman Carrie Kimball Monahan.
Put forward by the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, Question 3 aims to remove punishment under state law for “patients, physicians and health care professionals, personal caregivers for patients, or medical marijuana treatment center agents for the medical use of marijuana.”
Marijuana would be recommended for those with a “debilitating medical condition” such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis “and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”
“Who determines who has a medical condition?” asked Danvers police Chief Neil Ouellette, who said his research into medical marijuana in other states found that the most prevalent use for it is to treat back pain.
“I have seen what substance abuse has done in a community, and it’s a dangerous road to go down,” said Ouellette, who said that as a public official he can speak “from a public policy perspective.”
However, proponents say the measure carries numerous safeguards, given the lessons learned in the 17 other states where medicinal marijuana has been legalized, said Jennifer Manley, spokeswoman for the Committee for Compassionate Medicine.
In the states where medical marijuana ran into problems, states did not repeal their laws but instead attempted to fix the system, said Whitney Taylor of the Committee for Compassionate Medicine.
Under the proposal, patients and physicians would have to register with the state. Dispensary agents and caregivers must be at least 21. Dispensary agents could not be convicted drug felons. Marijuana cultivation and storage must take place in locked, secured facilities.
Patients and physicians would also have to prove an authentic doctor-patient relationship, and there would be limits on how much supply — 60 days — a person could obtain.
Statewide, the number of medical marijuana treatment centers would be capped at 35, and no more than five would be allowed to operate in any one county. To deter someone from defrauding the system, the law also creates a new misdemeanor and a new felony, punishable with up to five years in prison for distribution, sale or trafficking, Manley said.
Former state Trooper Karen Hawkes, 45, of Rowley said she uses marijuana so she can lead a normal life free of pain after she suffered a stroke in 2005. Traditional medicines left her feeling tired, confused and living like a zombie for years.
“I was in a fog, and I was not there for my kids,” Hawkes said.
At the time of Hawkes’ stroke, her children were 3 and 4 years old. She tried a list of pharmaceuticals “as long as your arm,” but the side effects were worse than the pain, she said.
Hawkes wrestled with the ethical qualm of taking medical marijuana and searched for a legal pharmaceutical. She said the initiative would create regulations around its use as a treatment, making medical marijuana much safer.
Hawkes will not say where she obtains her cannabis, but she administers it using vaporizers or tinctures, the latter being alcohol extractions, rather than smoking it.
Ouellette points out that there is a drug called Marinol that has a synthetic form of THC, but Taylor said that THC is one of the most “psychoactive” components of marijuana, and it does not work for everyone.
Hawkes said she benefits from the various components of marijuana, not just from THC.