Pubdate: Mon, 26 Nov 2012
Source: Daily Free Press (Boston U, MA Edu)
Copyright: 2012 Back Bay Publishing, Inc.


A new law legalizing the sale of medical marijuana in Massachusetts
will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The law will allow 35 marijuana
dispensaries to be opened in the state. Some communities are
expressing concern over where these dispensaries will be located,
according to a Boston Globe article Saturday. Many members of multiple
communities said they do not want to see the centers established
anywhere near their schools or churches.

While placing dispensaries near schools could create a legitimate
concern, a policy that forbids distribution centers from being placed
near churches or other areas where children might be seems
unnecessary. Simply opposing the drug does not seem like a strong
enough reason to prohibit a center from locating near you. Now that
medical marijuana has been legalized, communities should weigh the
impact its presence could have on children. Ward 5 Councilor David
Gamache told the Globe he would address dispensaries the same way his
district has addressed adult entertainment, limiting it to areas where
there are no children, churches or schools and away from downtown and
the Northshore Mall.

Despite the stigma attached to marijuana, applying adult zoning laws
to medical marijuana and equating it to strip clubs and other adult
entertainment venues is not the answer. The substance, if used for
medical purposes, can have a positive impact. It can relieve pain and
reduce muscle stiffness in people who suffer from severe, chronic
illnesses. Treating medical marijuana like adult entertainment might
cast medical marijuana in a negative light, which curbs the progress
supporters were aiming for in the first place.

Integrating dispensaries into communities might help remove some of
that stigma. Residents will have more of an opportunity to see who
uses those centers and how the centers are regulated. Exposing more
people to these centers could push forward the idea that marijuana is
not all bad, that it's something people with chronic illnesses use.
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