Westborough Planning Board seeks to ban medical marijuana
Westborough – The Board of Selectmen heard members of the Planning Board outline their plans regarding medical marijuana facilities and cultivation in town during its Feb. 12 meeting.
Planning Board Chairman Lester Hensley and Town Planner Jim Robbins both appeared before the board to highlight the reasons why they have endorsed Article 16 – which seeks to completely disallow the use of medical marijuana treatment, dispensing facilities and cultivation in the town of Westborough – on the upcoming Annual Town Meeting (ATM) warrant.
“Marijuana remains a dangerous drug that has severe and documented consequences to youth,” Hensley said. “This is an opportunity for us to act as municipal leaders … and send a message to our own community that this is not okay.”
Hensley said that the Planning Board's main justification for the disallowance of medical marijuana in Westborough centers around potential public health risks, as well as the fact that marijuana use remains in violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act. He also noted various negative impacts that medical marijuana facilities have had on communities across the country, including a decrease in property values and an increase in home invasions.
“Until there is a preponderance of evidence that there is a benefit derived from [medical marijuana], we are going to be conservative in ensuring the health, public welfare and safety of our youth and our community,” Hensley said.
Hensley noted that Westborough Chief of Police Alan Gordon, as well as the Massachusetts Police Association, have indicated that future medical marijuana use is a concern for them as well.
When asked by the board how the zoning bylaw included in the article would help protect the town of Westborough, Robbins responded by stating it was a precautionary measure in the case that the medical marijuana ban be overruled in court.
“If the disallowance is found to be unlawful, we will draw back to the secondary position [in the article] which allows medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation in a very exclusive district, the adult entertainment district,” Robbins said.
Selectman Ian Johnson asked Robbins to clarify specifically where the adult entertainment district in town is located.
“It's on Town Meeting Drive. At one point it was four parcels… it has [since] been consolidated to one parcel,” Robbins said.
Hensley urged those interested in viewing the background material used in deriving their decision, or learning more on medical marijuana's effect on youth in states that have more experience with it, to contact the Planning Board.
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