Attitudes changing on cannabis usage
Since marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts, the ethics of usage are changing. Where once marijuana was squarely in the Just Say No category of drugs, it has become hard to argue someone is committing a grave sin by using a legal product. And now for the next step—at Town Meeting, April 29, voters will be asked to weigh in on whether growing for sale, manufacturing, distributing, or selling recreational cannabis will be allowed in Carlisle. Warrant articles will be presented that ban cannabis facilities outright, or limit them to cultivators and craft cooperatives. If neither passes at Town Meeting by the required 2/3 margin, or if both fail at the ballot, Carlisle will be open for marijuana business.
Because of legalization, there are those who believe marijuana use must be totally benign. Some who would not allow a non-organic apple to cross their lips still consume cannabis. But Linda Fantasia says the Carlisle Board of Health is supporting the warrant article banning marijuana businesses. She points to a BOH fact sheet put together by member Todd Brady, MD and PhD, that cites accumulating evidence that marijuana use can “lead to the development of depression, long-term cognitive compromise, cancer and fetal toxicity.” As for teens, the Center for Disease Control website notes declines in school performance, an increased rate of depression and psychosis, and a potential for addiction among teens and young adults using marijuana (www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/Marijuana-Teens-508.pdf). It also notes kids whose parents are users are more likely to become users themselves.
For a perspective on the impact of marijuana on local public safety, the Mosquito spoke briefly to John Fisher, Carlisle Police Chief. He emphasized that it is the job of Carlisle residents to decide what rules they want, “We will enforce the law as the town chooses.” However he confirmed there is a public safety impact as more people are smoking and driving statewide leading to traffic accidents. One of Fisher’s greatest concerns is that the law is ahead of practical controls, “There’s no effective way to test if someone is driving under the influence that will stand up in court,” he says. Police officers stopping a driver can make observations, but unlike with alcohol, there is no blood test or other mechanism for proving usage.
In Carlisle it is difficult to see a trend in impaired driving as the numbers are small, he says, “If incidents go from one to three per year, that doesn’t necessarily indicate a 300% increase.” He notes the local police generally do not get involved with use in a person’s own home. “It’s when someone chooses to use and that choice moves into the world of someone else that we have an issue.” This includes smoking in public places or imbibing before operating a vehicle.
Attitudes are changing. Many voted to legalize marijuana—would it be hypocritical to then say “Not in my back yard?” At Town Meeting voters will have an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons. If there is no clear consensus to outlaw the cannabis industry, Carlisle may see a new era in local business with its first marijuana ventures. ∆