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For local officials and residents across Norfolk County, the local and statewide implementation of the Commonwealth’s new recreational marijuana law raises various issues that were recently discussed at the Norfolk County Commissioners’ inaugural Norfolk County Seminar Series forum: “What Recreational Marijuana Means for YOUR Community.”
The forum, part of a new “Seminar Series” initiative launched by the County Commissioners to bring Norfolk County leaders together on a regular basis to share best practices and discuss hot topics, was held on Thursday, November 16, at the Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole.
"The new recreational marijuana law passed by voters last year and recently amended by the Legislature carries with it considerations not only for Norfolk County residents and communities, but for residents and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Norfolk County Commissioner Joseph P. Shea of Quincy. “The Commissioners’ goal in hosting this first ‘Seminar Series’ forum was to bring together community leaders and experts to identify those considerations and to share some of the community strategies being considered to implement the law.”
The event kicked-off with welcoming remarks from Shea and perspectives from Walpole Police Chief John F. Carmichael, a member of the state Cannabis Advisory Board. It also included a panel discussion featuring Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, newly-appointed Commissioner Kay Doyle of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, and Assistant State Attorney General Margaret J. Hurley, Chief of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Municipal Law Unit.
"Washington State, Colorado, and other jurisdictions that have decriminalized marijuana use have faced a variety of problems that will require our vigilance as public officials. They will require us to work together to educate people – and that is why events like this one are important,” said District Attorney Morrissey. “Working together is something that we in Norfolk County have become skilled and practiced in doing.”
“Last November, voters in Massachusetts passed the legalization of marijuana. I am proud to have led the effort to write a law that works for all of the Commonwealth while making sure we are protecting kids from this new marketplace,” said Rep. Mark Cusack. “I thank the Commissioners for bringing officials from across Norfolk County together to learn about the new state law and the role communities have in regulating this new industry. Working together, we can ensure that each community implements local laws and zoning that safeguards the public while allowing each city and town to decide what works best for them.”
Commissioner Shea noted that public safety issues, new regulatory and local approval processes, siting and zoning issues, as well consideration of existing, already approved medical marijuana facilities, were some of the issues discussed during the seminar. Attendees included more than 40 local officials, including selectmen, town administrators, attorneys, public safety and health officials, building commissioners, as well as planning, economic development and licensing staff.