Article first appeared in the MetroWest Daily News
Last year, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Months into legalization, there is still confusion and uncertainty regarding the future of marijuana retail shops. In Holliston, voters next month will consider prohibiting the sale of marijuana in our town, an option allowed under the law. It would be a mistake. Banning marijuana shops limits the possibility of economic and educational growth, and makes our town less safe.
Lacking a supermarket and many chain stores, Holliston is the epitome of small town America. Permitting marijuana shops allows local small business owners, not illicit dealers and cartels, to thrive. Growth means income for families, not profit for illegal activities.
Some argue that these shops will attract crime here, but that stereotype is misguided. Marijuana users come from all backgrounds and use marijuana for various reasons. Moreover, allowing legal sale of the drug will actually enhance safety. For years, marijuana has been traded under a cloud of uncertainty and danger. Retail shops allow marijuana to be sold in a regulated and safe environment, preventing violence at drug deals. This regulated environment also frees police to focus on violent crime and the opioid epidemic that plagues our state.
As a former Holliston public school student, I am disappointed by cuts that have been imposed on our town’s successful education system. Holliston schools are at the core of our town pride, and we should maintain our level of success. Access to technology has become increasingly crucial, and the need for counselors, mental health services, and special education programs are always vital. Allowing retail sales of marijuana in the town could help avoid those educational cuts in the future because the law allows town the option of levying a two percent local tax on marijuana sales that would be paid by non-resident as well as resident customers.
Growing small business, providing a safe and thriving community for our residents, and funding our exceptional schools are all key Holliston values. Holliston residents will benefit from marijuana retail shops in town; oppose this misguided ban and vote for a thriving and prosperous future for our town.