The idea of a medical marijuana dispensary coming to Watertown is not somethings Town Council President Mark Sideris wants to see, and he plans to seek a way to prevent that from happening at a future Town Council meeting.
On Nov. 6, Massachusetts voters approved Question 9, the ballot question allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes as prescribed by a doctor, by a 63 to 37 percent margin. With the approval comes the creation of marijuana dispensaries—"non-profit treatment centers that will grow, process and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers," according to the Secretary of State.
Cities and towns are left to set regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. Sideris said he has concerns.
"I'd be opposed to any marijuana distribution facility in Watertown," Sideris said. "I'm from the old school."
There are already state regulations built into Question 3, which require the dispensaries to apply and pay for a Department of Public Health registration, as well as submit operating procedures, including the mandatory storage of marijuana in locked facilities.
Communities will also need to set local regulations for dispensaries.
Sideris said he is not sure how far town officials can go to prevent a dispensary from opening in Watertown. He plans to consult with Town Attorney Mark Reich to see what steps can be taken, and to talk to Police Chief Edward Deveau about what concerns the Police Department may have about having a marijuana dispensary in town.
In general, Sideris said he has mixed feelings about how to handle the marijuana issue.
"I am torn between making it legal, and tax it and make revenue off it, and on the other hand, are we opening up a problem like drinking and driving, but with smoking and driving," Sideris said.
While the question makes marijuana legal only for medical use, Sideris said he worries that others will also find a way to take advantage of the system.
"It is making it more easily accessible for others for non-medical use," Sideris said.