Banishing the Bud


Thank God we have adults serving on the Board of Selectmen.

Last week, they voted unanimously to use every legal option available to them to keep any kind of commercial establishment related to recreational marijuana out of Wakefield. That includes retail shops and commercial growing operations.

Unfortunately, the rest of the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana last November. But the Wakefield Board of Selectmen doesn’t answer to the rest of the state. They represent the will of the citizens of Wakefield, who bucked the statewide trend and voted against legalizing weed.

Wakefield may have to accept that pot is now legal in Massachusetts, but we don’t have to roll out the welcome mat for it.

The Cannabis Community was warned repeatedly that there were serious flaws in the marijuana industry-designed law that appeared as Question 4 on the ballot in November. But instead of working cooperatively to address those defects, they thumbed their noses and funneled millions of dollars into the campaign to pass a law favorable to the pot industry.

Now, these mellow, easygoing potheads are enraged because state lawmakers delayed the opening of commercial pot stores until July 2018 in order to allow time to fix the disaster that Question 4 had wrought. Nothing makes people crankier than messing with the availability of their drugs.

“The people have spoken!” they railed, when they found out that the legislature was going to tinker with the pot law.

Well, the people of Wakefield have spoken too, last November, when they said they didn’t want to legalize the bud. Now thanks to the selectmen, the voters of Wakefield will at least be able to prevent their kids from walking past “Herb’s Hemp Emporium” every day on their way to school.

It made zero sense to legalize another drug in the midst of an opioid crisis, but unfortunately, that smoke has left the bong.

Yes, I know that marijuana is not an opioid. But they are both drugs and legalization normalizes drug use at the worst possible time. And nothing normalizes a product quite like openly selling it in a retail store, which is why the selectmen don’t want to see that happen anywhere in Wakefield.

One of the big problems with the law that was passed last November is that, while it allows municipalities to “opt out” of having commercial marijuana operations within their borders, it’s a little fuzzy on exactly what towns have to do if they want to keep pot establishments out.

“It’s anybody’s guess what this big piece of legislation means,” Town Counsel Tom Mullen said recently, with his usual gift for understatement.

Consequently, Mullen has prepared the town by crafting a “belt and suspenders” approach, covering all the bases.

There will be a question on the April 25 Town Election ballot asking voters to adopt a bylaw prohibiting all commercial recreational marijuana establishments in Wakefield. Assuming that passes, there will be several articles on the May 1 Annual Town Meeting Warrant. The first will ask the voters to pass a zoning bylaw to prevent pot operations from locating in Wakefield. The second article will ask voters to pass a General Bylaw prohibiting pot establishments in town.

Should both of those fail, a third article will offer voters a chance to delay the opening of any commercial marijuana operation in town until July 1, 2018 in order to give the town a more time to figure out its options.

Of course, the local cannabis constituency won’t like it if pot shops are prohibited from opening in Wakefield. Their idea of a busy day is to roll out of bed at noon, stroll down to the corner Starbuds for a wake and bake, then over to Cumbies for a big bag of Doritos before heading back to mom’s basement for an afternoon of the Cartoon Network.

I’m not too worried though.

“Whoa, dude. Town Meeting, man. That’ll be awesome to sit through stoned!” said no pothead ever.

[This column originally appeared in the March 9, Wakefield Daily Item.]

16 Responses to “Banishing the Bud”

  1. 1 Tom

    You need to educate your self. This is the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time. I bet you’re ok with liquor stores on the corner kids have to walk by to go to school though, that’s OK right. I hope you never take a sip of any sort of alcohol, if you do you’re a hypocrite and should stop stating your opinion because it’s wrong. Who are you to say I can’t smoke marijuana but I can get drunk at the pub by the lake and drive home after. Total hypocrisy to say every vote counts and then pout when it doesn’t go your way and have a separate vote to ban shops in your town. What’s the point of being 1 nation under God if you want to make your own laws to bypass the Peoples vote. You’re what’s wrong with this country. Time to get out of your old school way of thinking and realize marijuana is not the gateway drug. It’s alcohol and prescription drugs. I can guarantee both of which are in your home right now. Thanks for being an ignorant hypocrite and trying to convince the herd this is bad.

    • 2 Mark Sardella

      Actually, there is no alcohol in my home. And I take no prescription drugs. So tell me again how I’m a hypocrite.

      • 3 iury taia

        Have you ever had a drink of alcohol or taken precrition medicine? Did you wright a pretentious article on it trying to impose your personal views on both and the harm it can caused if its abused daily and that it should be banned to the public? If not, than you are a hypocrite. Do yourself and society a favor and stop imposing your views on others.

  2. 4 Carmen Spagnuolo

    Whatever happened to people voting things but government doesn’t like it so they want to change it, How about Government accept the people’s right . Maybe it’s time for people to start voting these communists out of office.
    Buy the way Mark , not all that smoke cannibis roll out of bed at noon, some actually have great jobs, not just putting trash in the papers for ratings, Get real,Just for your info I don’t smoke but I don’t judge people either.

    • 5 Mark Sardella

      It’s lovely that you don’t judge. I can tell from your comment. By the way, I get paid for “putting trash in the paper” as you put it, so nonjudgmentally.

    • 6 Dave Zarba

      Ok so I grew up in Wakefield in the 70’s. I would guess that most of the selectmen are people from 70’s through the 90’s. From the sound of it your telling me that the the board never smoked tobacco,pot or if they did they did not inhale like Clinton , or drank a beer or even a glass of wine never mind the hard stuff…. come on get real. If this is true I guess its nice to know Wakefield political leaders are all perfect “goody two shoes”. That’s a laugh all they want is to be re-elected. I agree with Carmen in his statement.
      There is so much more to this pot legalization than people coming out of their closet and saying “Oh we can’t have that stuff being grown or sold in our town”. Good lord what would the neighbors think! Hey it’s not the 1940’s wake up take a look at the advances of medical uses that Cannibis has. It’s not all bad and its not all about kids and pot being a so called gate way drug. I do have a question. Do kids even walk to school anymore? the last I noticed they are all carted by parents or a bus.

  3. 7 Robert labossiere

    That article is bull shit. Grow up who ever wrote it

  4. 8 Brendin

    Howdy Mark, not here to yell but here is a different perspective. You cannot “roll out the welcome mat” for something that is already there. You have never had control over whether or not marijuana was in your town (it is) but you did have the option to take it out of the hand of the black market. All this civic tantrum does is ensure that Wakefield has a deeply entrenched black market which makes it easier for kids to get pot as well as other real dangerous drugs.

  5. 9 Steve Wilson

    “They are both drugs” is about the weakest, most irrelevant argument you could possibly make that marijuana legalization will encourage opioid abuse. Trotting that out exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of how and why people use recreational drugs and the real factors that lead to opiate addiction and overdose.

    The scientific community almost universally attributes the heroin epidemic of recent years to overuse of prescription painkillers. In fact, the only research showing a link between marijuana policy and opioid abuse suggests that painkiller abuse has decreased in states where marijuana is made more available, not increased.

    So why, exactly, are you concerned about marijuana exacerbating the heroin crisis when your only non-argument is that “they’re both drugs”?

    If you would like to learn more, here is a reasonable synopsis of the issue:

  6. 10 Dan

    Hi Mark,

    Just some perspective for you on the “local cannabis constituency”. I have recently purchased a home in Wakefield and am looking forward to participating in all this lovely town has to offer. I have saved and scrounged for the past dozen years for the opportunity to move to a community this nice. I am a Help Desk Supervisor managing Technical Support in a corporate environment for a company that has five offices throughout the United States. I also like to smoke marijuana. Some people like to crack a beer or have a glass of wine after work to kick back. I’m guessing you know a few. I’ve never been much of a drinker but when I get home after a busy day (assuming I’m not on call) I do enjoy smoking marijuana to relax and unwind.

    I did not roll out of bed at noon today (It’s before noon as I type this) and I certainly do not live in my parents basement. I also do not eat Doritos (lactose intolerant). Guilty as charged for watching the occasional Family Guy rerun on the Cartoon Network so you got me on that one.

    Food for thought.

    • 11 Mark Sardella

      I understand, Dan. Hyperbole and stereotypes to make a point are nothing new in opinion writing. I’m sure you get a good chuckle when you find it in pieces that you agree with.

  7. 12 Joseph bacigalupo

    You are a carpetbagger always ate your lunch alone an very odd person and to compare the marathon pot smoking you are an insult to your imaginary profession

    • 13 Mark Sardella

      Joseph Bacigalupo:
      I have no idea who you are and I certainly don’t know you. Yet you seem to harbor some odd and deeply personal hatred for me. Or more likely it’s just jealousy. In that case, join the club, pal.

      • 14 Joseph bacigalupo

        Mark I don’t hate you but I believe you are using this topic to insult people so I take it out on you. Wakefield center is slowly dieing nobody wants MJ shops in every corner I must say I think you do not speak for the majority of Wakefield but only for your ego are you still a notary I have some paper work for you pal it

  8. 15 mark webber

    if a law is passed, who makes you think you have the right to try and ban it. rmember majority vote, fool

    • 16 Mark Sardella

      There must be something about smoking weed that makes people forget about capital letters and punctuation, assuming they ever knew. Their sentences are always borderline incoherent. Of course, they all always add, “I don’t use pot myself…”

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