It’s time to end reefer madness
Growing up, I remember a very bold billboard standing over the intersection of Revere Beach Parkway and Winthrop Avenue. “DARE to keep kids off drugs.” It seemed larger than life compared to my small self crossing the parkway. However, with time the billboard changed, as did the American public’s perception of drugs.
Nationwide the country is seeing decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. The question pitting Revere residents against each other at the moment is whether or not a medical marijuana dispensary belongs in Revere.
The greatest issues concerning the plant within our city is its reputation as a “gateway drug,” and its influence on our youth. We have a very prevalent opioid problem in Revere – at least a handful of residents believe that medical marijuana will increase that problem – but I am going to have to disagree. Although research into the plant was stunted until recently, scientists and researches have yet to find any concrete relation, causation, or merit to the theory that marijuana is a gateway drug. In Massachusetts, hundreds of opioid addicts are being treated with medical marijuana. The doctors prescribing and overseeing the treatments have noted amazing feats such as 75 percent of their patients stopping their use of opiates and harder drugs. THC, CBN, and CBD – the active chemicals in marijuana that ease pain, anxiety, etc. – work on a completely different system in the brain than opioids do, which not only is more effective a system than current prescribed opioids at relieving pain, but also means no chemical connection in the brain exists between the use of marijuana and the desire for opioids.
Getting away from the science, if a patient using marijuana can go to a local dispensary, I’m sure that they are less likely to pursue other drugs that would have to be obtained illegally. This would also cut down on the number of prescribed opioids to Revere residents. Not to mention if marijuana were sold and regulated by a legitimate business, the market for drug dealers would decrease, and with it, residents’ exposure to other, more dangerous drugs. A dispensary in Revere would give many of the residents you call friends a safe, convenient way to medicate without driving to a clinic elsewhere or turning to the black market.
On a separate note, marijuana is not going to send any of the youth on a downward spiral toward failure. It’s time to forget those antics that were drilled into our heads during the war on drugs. At a meeting a few weeks ago, School Committee member Stacey Rizzo stated that marijuana was not medicine. Actually it can be used to treat over 100 known conditions and ailments from physical to behavioral.
She also said that kids would be getting the marijuana from their parents’ medicine cabinet. First off, that should not be a public concern; I’m baffled as to how it was brought up in a city meeting. A kid can just as easily take a bottle from their parents liquor cabinet, but you do not see anyone calling for a ban on liquor – an undoubtedly more dangerous substance. The kids already know about marijuana – they smell it, they see it on TV, they hear about it from their peers – and I guarantee you their reasoning behind whether or not to participate in the use of it does not depend on its legal status or how it is seen by our city.
Can marijuana have negative effects? Sure, if one smokes around the clock and does not practice moderation. Can it have positive effects? Absolutely. Can it change someone’s life? Yes, for better or for worse. Will it change the lives of those too young to enter the building it would be sold in? Not a chance.
A medicinal dispensary (located at Railroad Avenue, one of the most desolate corners of the community) would not throw marijuana into the spotlight, nor would it find its ways into schools. It would find its way into the hands of ailing patients and residents seeking an alternative to vicodin, oxycodone, and other pain killers. Adding a medical marijuana facility to our long list of businesses is not going to start a smoking uproar. Marijuana is already here, and it has been for decades. What we stand to gain from a legitimized and medical marijuana dispensary is increased quality of life for our friends, a regulation on a portion of drug dealing in Revere, and the end to a long run of character shaming for a medicine.
What we stand to lose is the chance of a great economic asset in a changing country. On next years’ ballot the question of legalized recreational marijuana will be posed. If the outcome is in favor of recreational use and Revere already has an established facility, we will be ahead of the game to take advantage of a multi-million dollar industry that is still growing. From looking at other states in the country, I believe the economic benefit to our city would be astounding if this is the case; imagine if the city had enough money to fix all the roads, rebuild a crumbling high school, and prepare for New England winters. This is all possible, but not if we turn our backs on this medical dispensary because of the rhetoric that we grew up with and the opinions we have adopted on a medicine bastardized for far too long.
Open Letter to the City Council of Revere
After having watched the recent Zoning Subcommittee meeting and subsequent City Council meeting regarding the Marijuana Dispensary issue, I can only state that like many of my friends and neighbors, I am extremely disappointed and thoroughly disheartened by The City Council’s inability to listen to and follow the will of the people on this matter. Two exceptions being Councilors Joanne McKenna and Steven Morabito.
I did plan to speak, but was unable to attend due to health issues with my mother that required me to be at her side instead. Your actions/decisions only increased my frustration of not being there. On the other hand, maybe her illness saved more frustration knowing I didn’t waste my time and breath by attending and being ignored, along with all the other residents who appeared.
These meetings and your decisions are a travesty.
I along with many of the other speakers and people I spoke with Are in Favor of Medical Marijuana. What we are not in favor of is having a dispensary in the City of Revere. And no this is not a “Not In My Backyard” thing; it is a practical matter that goes beyond the typical NIMBY reaction.
My personal feeling is that currently, marijuana is a prescribed drug and should be distributed in pharmacies and hospitals as all prescribed drugs are today. I know you can’t change the details of the law that was passed at the State level, but you can decided whether it is dispensed in the city of Revere.
Recently, the City Council decided to contemplate a moratorium because there was sufficient concern AND OPPOSITION to a large-scale residential development in this city. You listened to and reacted to residents’ concerns then. How was this any different? You were concerned about the impact to the city and the impact to the city’s “Master Plan,” which has not yet been formalized. What will be the impact of a Marijuana Dispensary on the city’s master plan? Does anybody up there know?
There are too many questions to be answered on this matter, and there has not been enough discussion regarding the facts and impacts. Two years ago there was a major campaign to educate the citizens of Revere about a proposed Casino and a Referendum was held after many meetings and discussions. Why is the issue not important enough to follow the same process to allow the citizens to make an informed decision as they did with the casino issue?
Have we vetted all the issues associated with Marijuana dispensaries? What is the impact on our city’s image? What is the impact to our youth? What is the Traffic Impact? What is the impact to police services and public safety in general? What is the impact to local businesses in the planned location? These are just some of the many questions I have and have heard from all who I talked to.
And who is this Not-For-Profit organization, and if it is really a not-for-profit venture, why are they doing this? Can someone properly explain to me, why, if there is no profit involved, these gentleman are looking to establish this business in our city? I don’t think it is out of the goodness of their hearts. I keep hearing about one of the “owners” and their ties to the city, but as I understand it, there are multiple owners and most of them do not have ties to Revere. I hear that they are fine upstanding businessmen. I would hope they are. But that doesn’t make this idea any better. I remember a short while ago there were a couple of other fine upstanding businessmen who wanted invest in Revere by building a residential unit in the city. That project was not moved forward because people did not think it was a good idea. Why is this any different?
If a dispensary is a good idea why is it not being proposed in the owner’s respective towns? Because, as was stated in one of the hearings Monday, lower income towns and cities are targeted as locations for these dispensaries. Why do suppose that is?
How much revenue would the City receive and what percentages of that revenue will be specifically allocated to fund the police services, public education, etc. and social services required to deal with the impact of dispensaries is being allocated from that revenue?
What is the impact on the city’s image? We have heard a lot being said recently about concern about the city’s image going forward and the need to properly plan. Well, I ask you, what will be the impact on the city’s image once a dispensary is built? Have there been discussions with other prospective developers regarding their interest in a city with a marijuana dispensary? Has there been any studies regarding that impact?
You get the message? There are too many questions. And, nothing I’ve heard coming from the Council has adequately addressed or answered them. The public deserves a full vetting of this issue before anything moves forward. I thought we were supposed to be heading in a new direction of openness in governance. Show us that there is substance behind those words. Show us that decisions made regarding the residential development project were not just “Heat of the Campaign Season” decisions. Show us that our concerns are being given the proper due they deserve.
You, as members of the City Council, hold the fate of our city in your hands and I believe you hold the responsibility to ensure the public has been properly educated on matters such as this. I’m not sure that has been done here, and I think there needs to be more education and discussions before this matter goes any further.
I am a third generation Revere resident and have had to defend my city’s honor against the disparaging remarks that often come up whenever the city’s name is mentioned. I have been involved in many civic activities because I believed in this city and I believed in its future. If you continue down the path you are following on this issue and how it is being handled, I for one will have lost faith in the city’s governing process and those that are part of it.
And quite frankly, will have lost my belief that our city is moving in a right direction. I will no longer be able to hold my head up and walk proudly as a citizen of Revere.
Edward C. Deveau