September 30 2015

Town Meeting Votes on Resolution Over Medical Marijuana Dispensary

By: Rich Hosford

Burlington Town Meeting voted on a non-binding resolution to show opposition to a medical marijuana dispensary looking to come to town Monday. 

The measure would have been symbolic. Under Massachusetts law, created after voters in the state approved medical marijuana in 2012, says that the state approves or denies all applications for dispensaries. A municipality can choose to write a letter of support, a letter of non-committal or take no action at all. It cannot send a letter of disapproval. 

And Burlington’s Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 to send a letter of approval during its meeting last week in exchange for a community benefit agreement with Mission Massachusetts, a medical marijuana group out of Worcester that is applying to the state for permission to set up a dispensary in Burlington. 

In the agreement Mission Massachusetts agreed to give $20,000 in donations to Burlington organizations and to give the town 3 percent of gross annual sales with a minimum of $250,000 per year starting in the third year of operation. The dispensary would also pay real estate tax though it might be exempt from personal property tax. It has also agreed to try and hire Burlington residents. 


Town Meeting member Mildred Nash, who put forward the resolution, said she thought the body should make its feelings on the issue clear. 


“The selectmen are going on record one way or another and I think Town Meeting should too,” she said. 


Nash also said she doesn’t believe people who voted to approve the 2012 ballot question knew what they were voting to allow. 


“I’ve been approached by a number of people like myself who voted in favor of medical marijuana and I don’t think most of us realized what was going to happen,” she said. 


Though the vote was split, the majority of Town Meeting voted against the resolution. 

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