When a state legalizes recreational marijuana, it is then up to the municipalities to decide whether or not they wish to accept this ruling. This means that even in states where recreational marijuana is legal, certain regions may decide not to opt in to this decision. In Marshfield, Massachusetts, a measure was put forward that purported to ban all sales of recreational marijuana. Massachusetts is one of 8 states which currently allow the sale of recreational marijuana, though this will not come into force until July of next year. In the meantime, much infrastructure, rules and guidelines are being put into place.
The Rejected Marshfield Ban
In order to pass, the measure would have needed two thirds of the vote to prevent the sale of marijuana. It was a narrow vote but in the end the ban failed. Hundreds of other towns have put the ban in place, including Braintree and Falmouth. There were many reasons cited as to why the ban did not come into force. One prominent reason cited by residents was, of course, money. The state predicts over $80 million in revenue in the first year. There is no sane reason to say no to such funds, given that it is going to continue in any case. Prohibited or not, people have been smoking marijuana for centuries and this will continue. The main difference is that cannabis users will be forced to go into the black market, which is more expensive and much riskier. According to attorney Karen Rossmore-Shields:
“I think that before it’s banned, people should consider that you’re giving up a lot of revenue. We’re not going to stop people from Marshfield, driving through Marshfield, using it in Marshfield. It seems shortsighted to me where we have a zone that we created for adult entertainment that never came to this town, to put an outright ban on something that could fund services.”
Another reason is of course the many health benefits associated with marijuana, which has been linked to the treatment of a number of serious conditions. The town meeting was reported to be quite heated, with many residents vehemently against marijuana. This is doubtless due to the stigma associated with marijuana over the years where is was linked with crime and mental instability, two myths which legalization is quickly evaporating. Surprisingly, Marshfield was one of the few towns in Massachusetts where the voters voted against recreational marijuana legalization.What is interesting at a lot of these town meetings is that there is a trend of doctors who are against the introduction of marijuana, despite its medical benefits. According to Dr. Joe Shrand at the meeting, marijuana will have a negative effect because medical dispensaries result in an increase in local crime and because “Medical marijuana is physiologically addictive, not just psychologically addictive”. Both of these statements are not just lies, but the opposite is the case; studies have shown that crime goes down when medical dispensaries are introduced, and that marijuana is possibly psychologically addictive and not physiologically addictive. Dr. Shrand was shouted down by the crowd.
The town bucked the trend with regards to recreational marijuana facilities, as more than 100 towns throughout the Commonwealth have opted to impose a ban or moratorium on the sale of the product.The article received vocal opposition from a number of voters at the Town Meeting during the sometimes-heated debate on the issue. Opponents of the ban spoke on various topics, from the medical benefits of marijuana to the potential tax benefit the town would be missing out on.A few opponents, who qualified their statements by staying they weren’t necessarily in favor of recreational marijuana, also expressed concern that the town would be acting too broadly and too soon, without knowing how the roll out affects other communities in the state. But the main reason why the ban failed was that it was completely anti-business, and not just anti-marijuana. It sought to ban all marijuana related activity which does not make any commercial sense given that medical marijuana is legal. It bans all cultivation in a right to farm community and it is simply foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity, given how many people would benefit. Any other type of business opportunity simply pales in comparison to what recreational marijuana could bring in.
No Skin in the Game
Needless to say, the opponents of recreational marijuana by and large have no skin in the game whatsoever. They do now own a farm, or a marijuana related business, or, generally speaking, do they have any close relatives or friends who happen to be suffering from a serious illness that marijuana could fix. In short, they know nothing about marijuana, and are concerned that cannabis will lead to some level of societal degradation and erode their established values of what a “good” community should look like and what values it should stand for. Aside from these people, the antimarijuana crowd largely consists of doctors, politicians and big businesses. Thankfully, the ban was rejected and people who need to smoke marijuana will be able to do so in peace. It will not actually change the community all that much and there is an incredible amount of hype surrounding weed. Many thought that Colorado would be rent asunder when it became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2014. Instead marijuana greatly benefited the state and others were soon to follow.