GUEST VOICE: Marijuana Is Not The Enemy, Establishment Politics Is

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Middletown License Ordinance is more “business as usual”.

If you support safe, sensible and common sense regulation of medical and recreational marijuana and don’t think that the town of Middletown should maintain a black market as the state moves towards regulation, you should attend the Town Council Meeting at 6PM on Tuesday, September 6th.

        Our rights as citizens are under attack by the political establishment. Had it not been for the efforts of a few concerned citizens, the proceedings of the last few weeks would have been legislated in practical secrecy. As a result, we need your help, as registered voters and informed members of the electorate, to help keep a spotlight on this issue.

Our elected officials have been operating shortsightedly, failing to properly inform the public of their actions, as well as of their motives. By neglecting its citizenry, the Town Council has denied us the democratic right of discussion of issues important to the community. This discussion needs to be held so that we can all, as citizens, properly inform ourselves of the issues at hand. The regulation of medical and recreational marijuana is precisely one of those issues.

“…the council asked the administration to work with the solicitor’s office to work on adding provisions to our ordinances which would provide the town the ability to manage any changes in the laws related to medical or recreational marijuana within the state and also within the town.”

These are the words of Town Administrator, Shawn Brown, during the July 18th Town Council Meeting. At this meeting, Mr. Brown explains what ordinances emerged from that discussion. The first of these ordinances dealt with the Zoning Code. As Mr. Brown explained, this ordinance was passed on to the Planning Board for an advisory opinion. This ordinance worked to effectively ban a state-licensed caregiver cardholder from providing medicine recommended by astate-licensed doctor for a state-licensed patient cardholder in the town of Middletown. Three separate individuals were licensed by the state in this interaction. Who is the Town Council to block this process?

I attended that Planning Board meeting, on August 10th. Following the introduction of the new business, which was titled “Request of the Town Council for an advisory recommendation on proposed zoning ordinance amendments to regulate the cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana.” I spoke and voiced my opinion that this ordinance and its partner, which worked to prevent the town from issuing permits or licenses for something that is illegal at the local, state or federal level, were dangerous for the community. I made clear that regulation, rather than a black market, was safer. I noted that recreational cannabis stores have a legal and financial incentive to properly test and label their products, and to prevent their sale to minors.

Lori Verderosa, Coordinator of the Middletown Prevention Coalition, spoke to the board after I did, noting that these ordinances would not directly affect medical cardholders, as they still would be able to get in their car and drive to Portsmouth to the Greenleaf Compassionate Care to obtain their medicine. Had I the opportunity to respond to that comment, I would note the illnesses recommended for patient cardholders (epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and more recently, post-traumatic stress) and indicate that to force any person with these types of illnesses towards any sort of undue burden, especially when the state has specifically provided these patients with a particular method of medicine delivery that suits their needs, is most certainly a danger to the quality of life for the sick patients of the Town of Middletown.

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