Sandwich Meeting Spells Out Reasons to Ban Sale of Recreational Pot in Town

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe

SANDWICH – Several elected officials and community activists who spoke at Monday night’s “opting out” panel on recreational marijuana sales in Sandwich said it’s not the mid-30s neighbor smoking in his basement that concerns them – it’s the child who damages their brain by making uninformed decisions.

Members of the Sandwich Substance Abuse Prevention Committee, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, State Senator Vinnie deMacedo, Sandwich Schools Superintendent Pam Gould, and others sat on the panel in defense of a measure on the upcoming town meeting warrant which would ban the sale of recreational pot.

O’Keefe compared the current situation to what municipalities in Colorado face. Recreational pot purchase, ownership, and usage was legal in that state before Massachusetts voted in favor of it last fall.

The district attorney said that Colorado’s sales tax rate on the drug in the 30 percent range, and what ultimately is funneled to the towns which opted-in to recreational sales, barely makes any profit for municipal investments. The 2 percent Massachusetts towns will receive from sales tax is pittance, he said.

Organizer Linell Grundman agreed that the 2 percent the town stands to gain on pot sales tax will in no way make up for the money that will ultimately be spent on public safety and education.

Sandwich Police Chief Peter Wack

“Because marijuana is still federally illegal, there is no public partnership with the federal government, so all negative outcomes are paid by for by the citizens in this town,” she said.

O’Keefe recalled an interview he saw which featured a Colorado school official. He said that many municipalities were promised funding for roadway and school improvements.

“A couple of years after the introduction of recreational marijuana, the superintendent was asked ‘what has marijuana done for the schools?’ and the superintendent replied, ‘the only thing recreational marijuana has brought to our schools is more marijuana.’”

All panelists said they worry about the safety of children once pot shops open on Cape Cod.

O’Keefe said that by legalizing the drug, adults are sending the message to young people that it is not really a dangerous substance. He noted that the marijuana of his youth contained only about 2 percent THC, whereas the chemically-altered contemporary substance can contain 18 percent or much more.

His concerns are compounded by the appearance the drug can take. Much of the pot sold in these stores are edibles, and therefore are sold in the shape of cookies and gummy candies.

Sandwich police Chief Peter Wack predicted that crime, especially against property, will go up if these shops open. He said that in other legalized states, people who grow marijuana often have their houses broken into.

By ADAM FORZIATI, CapeCod.com News Center

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