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Does Fitchburg Really Want to Become the ‘mecca’ for Marijuana Sales Shops?

September 25, 2018

As a former Fitchburg resident who now visits Fitchburg a few times a week, I am very dismayed to learn that the Fitchburg City Council, Fitchburg Planning Board, and Mayor Steven DiNatale want to give out eight retail licenses to marijuana establishments for the sale of recreational marijuana products in the city. According to the proposed Fitchburg Zoning Ordinance Chapter 181 Ordinance #32-2018, “Marijuana Products” are defined as:

″... products that have been manufactured and contain marijuana or an extract from marijuana, including concentrated forms of marijuana and products composed of marijuana and other ingredients that are intended for non-medical use or consumption, including edible products, beverages, topical products, ointments, oils and tinctures”.

Does this historical mill town really want to be known as the mecca for marijuana in Central Massachusetts? Has the leadership in the City of Fitchburg become so blinded by the glitz and tax money of the recreational marijuana industry that they ignore the well-being of their citizens?

Of the many recreational marijuana products that would be available in retail outlets, the most attractive to kids are the edibles such as THC infused chips, gummies, chocolates, etc. The are more potent with longer lasting effects than smoked or vaporized marijuana. According to an April 2017 study by the American College of Pediatricians, marijuana use -- including medical marijuana -- is detrimental to youth, is considered a gateway drug, and is addictive.

It is said that hindsight is 20/20. So looking back, what did the folks in Colorado learn since legalizing recreational marijuana in their state in 2012? Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said since Colorado decriminalized marijuana, Fort Collins has become a magnet for transients with many having serious criminal histories. Other trends that increased include marijuana related-traffic deaths and crashes, emergency room visits from adverse effects, school suspensions and/or expulsions, and accidental pediatric and pet poisonings.

While the effects of marijuana on the mind and body are not fully understood, there is evidence to suggest that marijuana impairs learning and memory for 24 hours after use (think school and work place), smoking it negatively impact lungs, and mothers who use marijuana are likely to have babies that are underweight, premature, and require neonatal intensive care. There are also links to mental health issues such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, bipolar and major depression.

It seems that these negative and unintended consequences of the recreational marijuana industry far outweigh the greed to profit by it.

Is this what the city’s leadership really wants for its citizens, families, and neighboring communities? As a regular visitor to the city, I would be less likely to go there if it becomes a mecca for recreational marijuana.

ARLINE STITH

Leominster

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