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Why Patricia Worden supports extending recreational-marijuana moratorium

Patricia Worden, a Precinct 8 Town Meeting member, delivered the following remarks about the recreational-marijuana moratorium at the May 2 Special Town Meeting.

town meetingRule-making needs adequate time to eliminate potential corruption ....

Fellow Town Meeting members, the Cannabis Control Commission’s rules for implementation of the Massachusetts Act Regulating Marijuana are 107 pages of close type and should become the baseline for us to build on as well as we can within its legal parameters to safeguard our community.

We need extended moratorium time to do this. Please vote YES on Article 2. The demands for us involve mainly complicated safety and also child development considerations. We do not have enough available land to envision large scale cultivation parameters.

About a hundred years ago East Arlington had 100 acres of glass hothouses for vegetable growth that produced more crop value per acre than any other town in the United States. But those 100 acres are now residential. If that land were still available it would be a prime target for marijuana cultivators as was the huge former Lucent campus in North Andover recently – but fortunately North Andover Town Meeting overwhelmingly rejected marijuana. Fortunately, East Arlington land is not available.

Rule-making needs adequate time to eliminate potential corruption and to solicit the input of knowledgeable and well-intentioned residents and professionals and for them to develop Arlington’s regulations excluding conflicts of interest. Huge amounts of potential marijuana profits can be made by those willing to use Arlington as a cash cow.

Last year when Town Meeting considered a temporary moratorium until June 2018, I described the dangerous situation that the Arlington Redevelopment Board had created by neglecting the eloquent and impassioned safety advocacy of the police chief and the director of health. Tonight we should make sure that the moratorium lasts at least until December 2018 to give proper weight to the advice of these and other safety advocates.

We should be able to leave marijuana decisions for adults to themselves except for driving under the influence and for drug-related criminology and fire and environmental hazards related to residential marijuana growth. We need time to focus on children and young adults and to find out what the School Committee can do.

Childhood use increases addiction. Of what good is a multimillion-dollar high school building to a marijuana induced mentally stunted student of whom there will be many if Marijuana becomes a habit for them? Check the scientific literature on the subject if you doubt that. Page 61 of the commission regulations cites their regulation for buffer-zone requirements at schools. We should build on that.

Will we protect youth centers? What about licensed day-care facilities or libraries? Are school athletic resources and athletic fields to be protected by buffers? I personally have counseled students having a marijuana party beside one of our athletic fields. The commission’s regulation does not prevent us from reasonably adding necessary details for buffers in designing our local bylaw.

There is no definition of children or young adults in the commission’s regulations. The hiatus between hi school and early twenties needs to be addressed. Marijuana damages the brain’s streamlining process in the teenage and young adult early twenties years reducing the brain’s ability to make judgments, think critically and remember what it has learned.

We need the moratorium for a transparent process to ensure that whatever marijuana Center Study group is created is not dominated by individuals who have in the past prevented safety measures or of individuals who have a conflict of interest such as marijuana entrepreneurs or lobbyists among us. This is our chance to, like the citizens of North Andover, resist the allure of propositioned tax benefits and untold wealth for some and instead simply take care of our children.

About 20 years ago Arlington residents and Town Meeting members on our Affordable Housing Task Force, on which I served, created Arlington’s Affordable Housing Bylaw despite opposition and delays caused by the then-Arlington Redevelopment Board. That bylaw has been described as the best inclusionary zoning bylaw in the Commonwealth. We now need time to create the best Recreational Marijuana Zoning Bylaw in the Commonwealth.

Please vote YES for Article 2. [The meeting supported the measure, 157-47-1.]

2018 Town Meeting information

These remarks, which include opinion, were published on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, and updated May 9, to add a link.

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