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Cape Ann Chat

June 4, 2014

Town Meeting musings

It's Special Town Meeting time!  That's right. Essex didn't get enough of Town Meeting last month, so residents are headed back to the Essex Elementary School gym tonight.

This time it will be to hash out whether or not regulations are needed if a medical marijuana cultivation site or dispensary ever wanted to come to town.

Whether this would happen at this point is questionable. After all, Garden Remedies Inc. withdrew their application for a special permit to build a growing site at the former Glass Dimensions site at 197 Western Ave. For what reasons, we can't be sure. 

What we do know is Garden Remedies' CEO Karen Munkacy had said that the organization didn't want to force a growing site down the town's throat. And there was certainly several hundred peoples' worth of opposition to the site. Shove, the company decided, it will not.

But this chain of events calls the integrity of forcing a special Town Meeting into question. After all, the citizens' committee needed a mere 200 signatures to force the meeting. Though Essex has a relatively small population, the committee was working against a new concept for the state. Pot hasn't been grown legally here before, not for medicinal purposes or recreational use. The fear of the unknown can grip anyone.

So more than 200 signatures were scrawled on the petition and they were found valid. The committee firmed up its argument, requesting that a medical pot cultivation site or dispensary be 2,500 feet away from any school, playground, sporting field or really any establishment involving children as well as 1,500 feet away from a residence.

But the committee has yet to prove that these proposals do not totally ban one of these facilities from entering town. After all, the town cannot discriminate against any business, as Planning Board officials have said in the past.

However, even without this evidence in hand, the town is still forced to go to Town Meeting and vote on something that may not be legal. Something that could still be tossed by the Attorney General's office.

So all of this could be just a grand waste of time.  Hmm ...

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