Medical-marijuana invite nipped in bud
Wendell votes down resolution
WENDELL — In the end, pot proved less controversial than the stove.
A proposed remodeling of the Town Hall kitchen — from which the stove is temporarily excluded due to its controversial nature — generated nearly an hour’s debate at Monday’s annual town meeting, in contrast to the swift rejection of a resolution inviting medical marijuana dispensaries.
The motion, a nonbinding resolution naming Wendell a “medical marijuana-friendly community” and inviting the associated business, was close enough for a hand count — following a voice vote — but failed 15-9, with a number of the 35 voters remaining after 10 p.m. abstaining.
Wendell is so far the only town in Franklin County to consider such a measure, with many towns either considering or actively pursuing moratoriums on marijuana dispensaries allowed under the act legalizing medical marijuana approved by voters last fall.
The failed resolution presented the town as having “a long history as a nexus of holistic health and healing, spiritual enlightenment and social awareness, and a passion for agriculture and gardening” and raised the possibility of worker-owned cooperatives, in contrast to factory farming.
On the warrant through a group of citizens via the Selectboard, the article proposed the town declare itself a “medical marijuana-friendly community, in support of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana program, and encourages individuals and organizations interested in siting an organic cultivation or distribution facility ... to engage citizens and town officials in discussions around ways to retain local control, create local jobs and to ensure that zoning, planning, health and safety issues would be properly addressed.”
Wendell residents raised concerns over the potential impact of the untested new business, citing the town’s rural character and a small police force that might be overtaxed by increased traffic or the presence of lucrative targets for thieves.
Planning Board Chairwoman Nancy Riebschlaeger said she has been to five workshops on the topic and none has answered questions such as how much traffic a dispensary would bring in. “We don’t have the information that we need to know what effect having a dispensary in Wendell would have on Wendell,” she said.
Police Chief Edward Chase said he was very much opposed to the article. “I think if we have a distribution center in this town, our quaint little town is going to be history; we’re going to have people coming from all over the county to get their prescriptions filled,” Chase said. “I think we just don’t have the resources to deal with it.”
One resident, who later declined to identify himself for the purposes of this article, described himself as a patient and a consumer advocate and was the only voter to speak in favor of the article, saying it would bring in a considerable amount of money to the town.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257