Essex officials are absolutely right, as we’ve noted previously, to craft a bylaw geared toward siting a potential cultivation and/or dispensary for medical marijuana within the town.
They’re also right to seek to nail down the wording and bring a proposal forward for their November special Town Meeting. And that’s been brought into very clear focus by the fact that two companies with permit applications through the state Department of Health have noted that they’re looking toward Essex as a potential base for their Essex County facilities.
But while Police Chief Peter Silva has understandable safety concerns — especially over potential security issues at any growing or dispensary business — and while town officials are treading warily into opening the door to a legal marijuana growing facility, it’s also important that all keep a significant consideration in mind.
That’s the fact that the state’s new medical marijuana law that calls for these businesses received overwhelming approval from voters across Massachusetts — including a Cape Ann grand slam “yes” vote from the residents of Essex, Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester.
And there are indeed potential benefits that reach beyond the bounds of the patients, who will, of course, need valid prescriptions to acquire their medicinal pot from a dispensary, whether one or up to five potential Essex County growing, processing or dispensing facilities are placed on Cape Ann or elsewhere.
“It’s only going to bring jobs and economic growth to the area,” said Jonathan Napoli of Boston, the owner of Boston Gardener and the new Planting Hope Inc. company that is one of the potential Essex applicants. And there’s no reason to doubt that he’s right.
While both Napoli and CEO Brandon Tarricone of Medicinal Evolution, the Peabody-based company that also has its eyes on Essex, said they are considering at least one specific town site, they have not identified it. And that should not influence Essex officials as they carve out allowable sites that could work for the town.
But as they — and as Town Meeting voters — consider any potential locations, and what requirements the town can put in place, all must remember one factor.
Saying “no” altogether is not an option, nor should it be. Voters here and across the state have already made that clear.