, Salem, MA


December 10, 2012

Our view: No need to rush on new pot rules


It’s not that we disagree with Peabody officials’ displeasure over the outcome of last month’s election. We editorialized against the ballot question in this space, feeling the law as proposed was too vague and would likely lead to a push to legalize marijuana use in all instances in the near future.

Voters, however, disagreed. The ballot question passed with 63 percent of the vote and earned the approval of citizens in every North Shore city and town. The voters have spoken, and now the challenge is how to turn their will into action.

So it’s good that local officials have begun to consider the effects of last month’s vote on their communities, and it’s wise to start thinking about zoning laws that would offer some control over where dispensaries could be located. But it would also be wise to follow the lead of the Salem Planning Board and hold off making final rulings until the Department of Public Health finishes its work on the subject. There are simply still too many questions that need to be answered by DPH officials.

“I’m of the opinion to hold back until we have more information,” Planning Board member Mark George said at Thursday’s meeting. “My feeling is we’re premature.”

For its part, the state is still at the early stage of its work on the issue.

“The department will work closely with health care and public safety officials to develop smart and balanced policies and procedures over the coming months,” Lauren Smith, interim commissioner for the Department of Public Health, said in a statement to The Salem News last month. “We will work carefully, learn from other states’ experiences and put a system in place that is right for Massachusetts.”

Another six months is not too long to wait to make sure the job is done correctly.

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