Officials “stoked” that there will be no pot sales in Chelsea

February 6, 2014
By

The State announced last week that 20 locations would be permitted to dispense medical marijuana, and local officials were high on the fact that none of the sites were in Chelsea.

“We weren’t surprised, because there were no applications for sites in Chelsea,” said City Manager Jay Ash.  “We carefully crafted a defendable legal strategy to limit where dispensaries could go with every intention of not welcoming them to Chelsea, and our strategy has worked, at least so far.”

That strategy, as explained by Ash, was to permit dispensaries in designated areas of the city.  Generally, if a use is not allowed anywhere by local zoning, the courts have overruled that local decision.  So, City officials last year decided to take a bold step – taking action to actually allow dispensaries in the city’s two shopping center districts as a way of keeping them out of Chelsea. The City’s feeling was that neither the Mystic Mall nor Chelsea Commons ownership would allow those uses in their centers.

“And, we’ve been correct,” said Ash, who indicated that he has never actually discussed the strategy with either ownership group, but that his in-depth knowledge of their corporate philosophies led him to believe that medical marijuana would not be a desired use in their portfolios.

Ash credited the City Council, and in particular, Councillor Leo Robinson, as well as the Planning Board, City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher and Police Chief Brian Kyes, for working with him to keep “pot shops” out of Chelsea.

“All of us are skeptical of the medicinal benefits of marijuana, and, more so, we’ve all been working to overcome the reputation Chelsea has had as a drug community in the past,” said Robinson. “It would be tough to fight that reputation while some were hanging out signs to welcome people into the store to buy pot.”

Ash concurred with Robinson’s comments, and added that the City is coordinating efforts with stakeholders to reduce the impacts of drugs on individuals, families and the community.  Chief Kyes went further, saying that the decriminalization of marijuana and the permitting of dispensing facilities are sending the wrong messages out to drug users and, especially, youth.

“There’s no FDA (Food and Drug Administration) evidence to support the claim that medical marijuana has health benefits,” said Kyes, who said his colleagues in the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs, of which he is vice-president, have taken a strong stance against the softening of attitudes on marijuana. “Conversely, the discussions about it not being what it actually is, a dangerous drug that can have long lasting negative impacts on users, especially our youth, are giving our youth the wrong impression.”

Two licenses have been granted in Suffolk County, those both in Boston, one in Roxbury and the other in the Back Bay.  Ash said he received numerous calls about siting a dispensary in Chelsea.

“I had old friends from my days at the State House calling me to ask if it would be okay to come to Chelsea,” said Ash. “I had great conversations catching up on those old days, but in each case I ended the friendly chat there, and then talked about why it was important not to have a dispensary in Chelsea. I’m pleased they all respected what I was saying, and happy that we won’t be dealing directly with the consequences of having one in our downtown, near a school or anywhere else in the city for now.”

  • Kris

    I really disagree with Ash on this. Because if he really believes this, so when is CVS and Walgreens closing? Because they certainly give out more powerful and more addicting drugs. And trust me, I see some of the riff raff in the square and time and time again they all look like opiate junkies, so want to tell me again why pot is bad and CVS selling opiates is not?

  • John Dope

    I just want to say – if no marijuana then you should also get rid of the Methadone clinic!

  • Roberto Torres

    Mr. Ash needs to educate himself a little more on marijuana. First off, the FDA has no evidence because it’s illegal on a federal level. How can they explore the benefits if they can’t research it because of it’s legality? Let’s keep joblessness running rampant in the city, after all it’s not like dispensaries don’t create jobs. What you have here are individuals who grew up in the “reefer madness” propaganda era calling the shots. Heroin is everywhere, liquor is everywhere, meth is creeping around, cocaine along with crack are still all over the place. The fact that the city government has such a strong stance on not allowing dispensaries to appear in the city, but constantly allow liquor licenses shows the complete hypocrisy that goes on. Tax revenues can clean up and fix the broken sidewalks and potholes that plague the city, along with go toward the school system.

    Cigarettes kill over 400,000 Americans alone every year, alcohol kills over 100,000 Americans every year, mind you that’s from consumption and not from accidents. A person dies every 20 seconds in the country from a prescription drug over dose. How many people have died from smoking pot? None. The research is out there. You have Harvard psychology professors like Dr. Lester Grinspoon who talks about the benefits of the plant, yet there is no validity in the eyes of these men who run the city. It’s sad to see these politicians still abide by their archaic views. The plant was perfectly legal up until the 1930s and used as medicine during that time. These guys are afraid, it’s simple really. What kind of politician and stand before their constituents today and tell them the plant is safe, when yesterday they said it was evil and dangerous? People will want to know why they changed their mind. Were they lying to us, or are they stupid? I understand why these guys are reluctant to act on their principals, but these guys need to read their own polls, because this is one of those cases, and it happens a lot in life, where the people are ahead of their leaders. Sure we need to worry about the kids using marijuana, but we worry about kids smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and even driving an automobile. But for it to be the prohibition it is today rather than regulation can not be sustained, at least in a rational society.

  • Roberto Torres

    I also love how the chief of police has his opinions on what should and shouldn’t be allowed. It’s like asking the Timber industry their views on saving the forest.

  • Roger Hurvitz

    It would be so easy to do a double-blind study with 100 Elderly receiving a food w/Cannabis and 100 receiving a food without and seeing within a month whether it’s effective against pain or not; BUT the FDA will NOT allow ANY studies IF the hypothesis is in anyway positive for ANY schedule 1 drug. Police Chief Kyes–There is no evidence BECAUSE the FDA won’t allow any studies–Catch-22 AND unfair, to say the least. Like not giving a 24 HR license to CVS but to Walgreen’s–to a certain Tedeschi but not to another or to any Dunkin Donuts for those getting off the bus after a Second Shift. Quite unfair. Being in Chronic Pain I do NOT want to go on opiates if I can avoid it.


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