On the medical marijuana front

Last Monday, the High Street Hill Association board voted 7-3 to send a letter asking for support of Warrant Article 12 at tomorrow’s Town Meeting. Article 12 would revisit a 2013 zoning bylaw which adjusted state recommendations so as to allow registered marijuana dispensaries (RMD) to be sited more easily in Brookline. If passed, Article 12 would be prohibit a RMD from operating within 500 of a “daycare enter or any facility in which children commonly congregate.” While zoning laws are generally applied town-wide and not supposed to be parcel-specific, adoption of Article 12 would effectively disallow an RMD at the former Brookline Bank in Brookline Village, and the remaining possible sites for an RMD in Brookline would be limited to a small strip along Route 9 between Hammond Street and the Newton line. The text of the letter is below.
For a complete discussion of Article 12 and to see the latest recommendations from the Advisory Committee and Selectmen go to:
… and download the “November 18, 2014 Special Town Meeting Combined Reports with Supplements.”
November 15, 2014
Dear  Selectpersons and Town Meeting Members,
We write to you at this important juncture in Brookline’s development to report that the High Street Hill Association (HSHA) formally supports the adoption of Warrant Article 12. We believe Article 12, with its appropriate setback guidelines, would help keep our children and community safe.
The High Street Hill Association is the neighborhood organization for residents within the Pill Hill Local Historic District.  Located just south of Route 9, our neighborhood begins less than 200 feet from the Brookline Bank Building, the site chosen by New England Treatment Access (NETA) for its Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD).
The HSHA supports the medical use of marijuana, and we support Brookline’s commitment to provide medical marijuana for people with serious medical conditions.  But we call for appropriate guidelines for distribution that will ensure safety in our closely-intertwined community. Therefore, we also support Warrant Article 12.
The state and federal guidelines are clear. Mr Arnon Vered, while serving as an officer of NETA, wrote in a letter to the Zoning ByLaw Committee on August 12, 2013, that the federal guidelines:
  “limit cultivation, possession and sale of marijuana- even medical marijuana- within 1000 feet of schools.”
He also wrote in the same letter:
 “As a result, an appropriate and necessary standard of care for a conscientious RMD operator in Massachusetts is to limit its site selection criteria to locations that are beyond 1000 feet from a school. This is the approach we are taking throughout Massachusetts.” (ibid.).
 “We recognize that the 1000 foot buffer zone may disqualify many commercial areas and properties from eligibility for obtaining a special permit for an RMD. Nonetheless, based on GIS mapping, there will still be locations that meet your other zoning criteria even with a 1000 foot buffer zone from elementary or secondary schools. For all of these reasons, we encourage you to amend your proposed By-laws to make the elementary or secondary school buffer zone 1000 feet.” (Ibid.)
We completely agree with Mr. Vered’s 2013 statements, and do not understand why he and NETA have done an about-face on this issue so critical to our community.
We would like to see Brookline adopt the state or the federal guidelines. We believe the proposed location of the RMD puts children at risk.  There are many small children and teens living in the High Street Hill neighborhood, as well as other nearby areas like Emerson Park. They walk past the Brookline Bank building to get to school, to the Town Center and Library, the T stop, the new Teen Center, and also play at the nearby playground on Juniper Street. Soon there will be even more children in the area when the old Lincoln begins to serve as a swing school.
We feel it is important to limit children’s exposure to marijuana.  Article 12 adopts buffer zones for Brookline in accordance with state recommendations for safety of young children. The federal guidelines are even stricter, clearly recognizing the dangers of having marijuana sold close to schools and playgrounds.
This proposed RMD challenges our capacity to raise our children safely. Many of us will think twice about allowing them to walk independently through their own community. Please allow the state or federal standards to protect them.