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Letter: Henny Penny in Williamstown Over Marijuana Cultivation
Letter to the Editor,
07:00PM / Saturday, June 05, 2021
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To the Editor:

Let's continue to allow outdoor marijuana cultivation in Williamstown. Vote no on a planned amendment that would ban outdoor growing. And vote yes on article 29 at the June 8 town meeting. The proposed zoning bylaw would continue to allow — but further restrict — legal cultivation. If we want to know what the impacts might be we can look back over the last four years. There has been one proposed outdoor grow operation that faced stiff opposition and legal challenges and went elsewhere. Up to two acres of cultivation has been legal in Williamstown since 2017.

I am not arguing whether marijuana is good or bad, but we're seeing a strange hypocrisy from those trying to outlaw legal cultivation. Some of the opponents are the same people who have cried out for years that regulation of land use was crippling economic development. But now they want to prevent Williamstown's current or future farmers from growing a crop that is legally available to them.

Growing up in Williamstown in the '60s and '70s I can say with authority that, like it or not, marijuana has been a major part of life here for at least half a century. It's been widely used to varying degrees by students, parents, teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers and others. Up until 2017 this widespread use was criminal. We indirectly enabled illegal trafficking and the attendant violence and devastation in Latin America and inner cities. But because we are a largely white and increasingly privileged community, we rarely suffered the consequences of decades of criminality.

In 2017 residents overwhelmingly supported legalizing recreational use of marijuana and cultivation. Now Williamstown receives close to half-a-million in tax revenue from fees from legal sales. Massachusetts dispensaries may sell only marijuana grown in Massachusetts. But suddenly the sky is falling because the Planning Board is trying to establish sensible safeguards for grow operations that may or may not be proposed in the future.

While we reap the fiscal benefits from the legal sale of recreational pot, it's only fair to allow farmers and landowners to benefit from a completely organic and legal crop. Let's not push possible impacts off on a less privileged community. Please vote no on the planned amendment that would ban outdoor cultivation. And please vote yes on Article 29, which would place sensible restrictions on an already legal farming opportunity.

Dave Simonds
Williamstown, Mass.



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