Marijuana – Medical and Recreational – in South Boston: Questions Remain

by Rick Winterson

 

   It’s well known that marijuana has been legalized in Massachusetts.  Medical marijuana is legal as you are reading this.  After a long delay, recreational marijuana (Question 4, approved by voters 54% to 46%) becomes legal at mid-year:   on Sunday, July 1, 2018.  Even though the vote on marijuana was unquestionably in favor of legalizing it, many questions about it still remain.  One of these questions is where to put marijuana retail stores, specifically, where to locate a store here in South Boston?

On Tuesday evening, a marijuana retailer named Native Sun “Wellness”, made a presentation to the WBNA (the West Broadway Neighborhood Association), one of South Boston’s highly active civic groups.  The WBNA’s civic area is generally along Lower West Broadway, including the many newly built residences around the Broadway Red Line Station.  Native Sun had been interested in a location at Dorchester Avenue and West Fourth Street, which is why they spoke at the WBNA’s June meeting.

Native Sun’s presentation was led by Mark Schuparra, Native Sun’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder.  This presentation mostly focused on medical uses of marijuana, for the simple reason that recreational marijuana won’t really be legal for another two weeks.  These marijuana-based medicines are mostly liquid extracts, which are made from marijuana grown at Native Sun’s farm in northern Massachusetts.  Such  extracts are claimed to be effective in treating seizures, glaucoma, anxiety attacks, and even Crohn’s disease, in addition to relieving pain and protecting against stroke.  For your information, marijuana derivatives are often referred to as “cannabis”, the scientific name of the marijuana plant’s family.

Many questions were asked after the presentation concluded.  One individual asked why Native Sun was even at the WBNA meeting, since they had not found a South Boston location yet.  In general, the questions had to do with “What will go on in your store?”  Another person at the meeting testified eloquently (and believably) about the benefits he had received from medical marijuana.  The WBNA pointed out that there are eight civic associations in South Boston.  Native Sun replied that they’ll offer presentations to all of them over the next several months.

But even though South Boston Online agrees that medical marijuana should be legally available, we still have questions:   Why not dispense medical marijuana (“Cannabis”) with prescriptions from Medical Doctors filled by Registered Pharmacists in ordinary drug stores?  Why is a separately administered clinic/store even necessary?

   In a brief personal interview with CEO Mark Schuparra after the WBNA meeting, he explained their approach to recreational marijuana when it becomes legal on July 1.  Native Sun will develop a business plan for recreational uses as soon as possible, and quickly proceed from there.  He was not sure how that plan would affect their existing stores for medical marijuana only.  He also said that marijuana smoking is decreasing and being gradually replaced by cannabis liquid extracts, even for recreation.

South Boston Online has several questions regarding recreational marijuana:

The claim is made that opioid deaths drop 25%, when marijuana is legalized.  Yet a recent Times headline stated that U.S. drug deaths “are rising faster than ever”, even though marijuana use is also growing rapidly.  What’s the real story here?

The Committee on marijuana-impaired driving just met (for the first time) yesterday.  That aspect of legalization won’t be complete until year-end.  How do the police handle “driving high” in the meantime?

What are employers entitled to do about workers who show up “high” or use marijuana on the job?

Will taxes on legal marijuana cause an increase in illegally grown or smuggled marijuana?  This has happened in Colorado.

What is the effect on young minds (especially in males) from using marijuana in the early 20s?

Most important of all, how do we prevent children from ingesting marijuana in homes where it’s used and carelessly left around?

Is South Boston really ready for recreational marijuana?

In closing, South Boston Online reminds you that marijuana marketing will definitely affect your neighborhood, is still a Federal felony (despite Sen Warren’s efforts), and it stinks when smoked.  A skunk-like smell soon permeates your skin, your clothing, the place where you live, and your breath.

Jeanne Rooney

Jeanne Rooney is the Editor in Chief for South Boston Online.