Recreational Marijuana

This week’s question is:

Question 4 (to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts) passed in Belmont with 52.48 percent voting “yes.” The Selectmen voted 2 to 1 against holding a special election asking residents to vote whether to opt out of allowing recreational retail marijuana to be sold, cultivated or tested in Belmont. Many believe Belmont voters should have had the opportunity to opt out completely. Instead, due to the Selectmen’s decision and the outcome of the vote on an amended citizen’s petition at a Special Town Meeting last spring, voters had to choose whether or not they would limit the number of recreational retail marijuana stores to two or not limit it at all. Do you agree with the Selectmen’s decision not to have a special election to opt out completely? Why or why not? Please answer in 200 words or less.

Roy Epstein

I am satisfied with the various decisions made last year in regard to recreational marijuana sales in Belmont. They showed we have a functioning democracy and that is the main thing. Our democracy works in two ways: direct voting, and representation via elected officials. At the state level, we had a direct vote on the issue. In town, the decision then went through our representative democracy, based on the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting. This was proper and our elected officials were diligent in considering the views of the town when making their decisions. A hallmark of a working democracy is accepting the outcome of such processes, whether one agrees with the result or not.

Regarding the issue itself, I think that a retail marijuana establishment is unlikely to open in Belmont anyway. While commonwealth — and Belmont — voters made a clear decision to establish a statewide cannabis industry to serve both medical and recreational users, the limitations on location and operation placed by the Board of Health and the Planning Board suggest to me that such a business would prefer to be elsewhere. Time will tell, of course.

Original Article - Wicked Local