Friday, April 19, 2024

From Juliet Blackett, of North Cambridge, Dec. 7, 2015: I am concerned by the ongoing delay of the Ordinance Committee and Planning Board regarding the location of a voter-approved medical marijuana dispensary in the city, and hope that the committee hearing coming Thursday will serve to clarify the zoning issues and move this project forward at last.

LetterIn the meantime, please consider the statistics below for institutions and vendors in the city that provide, dispense, sell or prescribe addictive substances. These data come directly from the city website and Six-City Tobacco Initiative, which covers licensing in Cambridge as well as five other cities and towns.

120815i letter selling addictionThere are about 86 venues licensed to sell tobacco products, and of those licensed to sell alcoholic beverages there is a VFW post; seven educational institutions; 10 hotels and inns; a dozen clubs; about 45 package stores; and about 100 restaurant/bars.

Add to the list other providers of addictive substances, for which precise statistics are almost impossible to determine: pharmacies and health food stores; major hospitals and their satellite locations, including Cambridge Health Alliance, Mount Auburn Hospital, Sancta Maria Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation for Continuing Medical Care; private physicians’ offices; private dentists’ offices; drug rehabilitation facilities; and nursing homes and hospices.

In short, there is not one private or public school, school bus stop, daycare center or religious institution in the city that is not a stone’s throw from a venue that offers addictive substances to the public, either through official licensing or accepted practice. Those who continue to object to medical marijuana as one step on the slippery slope toward the legalization of unbridled recreational marijuana might want to have a look back at several versions of the infamous absurdist government propaganda film of the late 1930s, “Reefer Madness” (also known as “The Burning Question,” “Dope Addict,” “Doped Youth” and “Love Madness”).

Therefore it is difficult to justify that one voter-approved medical marijuana dispensary should occasion such disorganized thinking and possible prejudice among members of the committee, Planning Board and City Council, even given the way the state botched the legislation in the first place.

I trust that the zoning issue will be clarified and the project proposed by the current applicant be moved forward at the next meeting of the Ordinance Committee for the sake of those who are justifiably in need of medical marijuana and must currently travel to either Brockton, Salem or, in the near future, Springfield to get it.