Selectmen agree to pursue changes to CommCan agreement

by beth on April 6, 2016

Last night, the Board of Selectmen discussed a proposed Community Host Agreement with owners of the future Medical Marijuana dispensary in Southborough. Selectmen took public comments and debated changes.

They will now head back to the negotiating table with CommCan, Inc. Though, Chair John Rooney stated he’s doubtful that at least one change “will fly”.

(Given back and forth about what is and isn’t reasonable to ask, it’s no wonder negotiations are usually in Executive Session.)

Rooney explained to residents that he and member Brian Shea worked to negotiate the best deal for the Town. He said that they were aggressive in pushing for the most financially advantageous deal they could for the Town.

He also stressed their effort to address residents’ concerns about diversion and other safety issues. The Town will provide a diversion plan, developed with the police chief, that the operator must comply with. Specifics mentioned in the host agreement are just the minimum.

Given the many remarks about dangers to nearby school children, Rooney allowed the Superintendent of schools to provide input.

A draft revised since the packet was posted included superintendent’s requests. One was to earmark a $50,000 payment (to be made 2 years after opening):

to fund school substance abuse and mental health programs to establish prevention and intervention education and awareness

Initially, the payment was to be used for pertinent police capital expenses and/or drug eduction.

It was a change not everyone was in favor of. Some residents wondered if it should be more flexible in addressing public health concerns, including use by police and the Board of Health.

Rooney responded that he had assumed the public would be resistant to selectmen deciding how to use it. And he pointed out that the 3% can be flexibly applied.

Meanwhile, selectmen Dan Kolenda and Bonnie Phaneuf asked to move up the school payment. They pointed out that education should begin sooner and schools will need the funds. Kolenda asked for up front payment. Phaneuf suggested a smaller initial amount within the first 6 months. She suggested asking the Superintendent how is needed to get started.

Marnie Hoolahan, organizer of a movement opposing the dispensary site, asked the board to include a clause indemnifying the Town from all damages. She said that if a child is hit by a driver on Deerfoot, parents would sue the Town (as she would).

Rooney objected that it would never fly. But Kolenda and Selectman Paul Cimino supported asking to indemnify the Town from damages resulting from the dispensary’s negligence by act or omission. Rooney then suggested requesting instead for the Town to be added to CommCan’s insurance. Resident Julie Connelly, an attorney, advised them to ask for coverage of legal fees and no coverage cap.

Connelly also questioned statements by the board that if an agreement with CommCan lapses the dispensary would not be able to operate. According to Connelly, the ZBA decision only covers that the agreement be executed at the start. She wasn’t convinced that a terminated agreement would prohibit the dispensary from operating. (You can see a copy of the ZBA decision here.)

That determination is important, since selectmen were debating about language on renegotiation of a deal after three years. Cimino asked for it to be only at the Town’s request, in case the original agreement appears to be the best deal. In contrast, Kolenda asked for the agreement to be terminated at the end of three years, and the applicant only able to remain open if a new agreement is in place. Kolenda said he didn’t want CommCan dragging its heels on negotiations to avoid a better agreement.

1 Mike FUce April 6, 2016 at 4:04 PM

You know , this is such bull crap. If it is for medical purposes then let the pharmacies sell it but it is not. We all know, it is gateway to all other drugs. Not for all, but why even mess with a percentage? Are we stupid as a people? Heroin is killing many people and there are more and more addicts across all socioeconomic lines. Stupid.

2 raul duke April 6, 2016 at 7:05 PM

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.
We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.
But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.
The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.
There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.
There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.
Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.
In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.
We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

3 Mike Fuce April 7, 2016 at 9:21 AM

Oh Raul, that is so sad and tired argument not based in science and TRUTH. , there are so many ruined lives form alcohol. And drugs do the same thing. Its tired argument but we will all see in the near future with the Genie out of the bottle now.

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