They are mistaken in believing that by locking the door to the industry in their town they are keeping their communities “safe.” Marijuana already is abundant in their communities, only it is sold illicitly, not tested for safety, and not taxed. Instead, adult-use legalization will make consumption of marijuana far safer and sold by well-trained business people who will pay a considerable amount in local taxes. The Cannabis Control Commission has very carefully thought through safety concerns, and new licensees are carefully vetted and inspected.
One reason for this lack of counterbalance on the grassroots level is the generation gap in local government. Although issues that play out in their communities often are highly relevant to their futures, younger citizens can be turned off by the seemingly arcane processes and slow-moving nature of various boards and committees. More participation is critical in reflecting the true will of the people, as we saw with zoning for adult-use cannabis in Boston. With more people weighing in on the process, the city arrived at a progressive, forward-looking result, a tribute to Mayor Marty Walsh, clearly no fan of legalization, and the responsiveness of the administration and City Council.
When the majority is given an easy opportunity to be heard, like on Election Day, voters continue to give cannabis a thumbs up. Newton residents earlier this month defeated two non-binding referendums that called for limiting or banning outright adult-use sales. It was a defeat of unfounded fear and an affirmation that cannabis legalization will yield a safe industry in Massachusetts. It is a lesson more cities and towns will learn, albeit slowly, as a new era takes root.”