Boston mayor wants to block voter-approved medical marijuana dispensaries


Rappaport Center/Flickr.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh says he will be fighting the applications of two medical marijuana dispensaries in his city in a meddling letter to state Public Health officials this week. In the letter, he tells the state health department that he expects “swift and uniform” denials if the applications have any inaccuracies in them whatsoever.

“If any information provided in either application is confirmed to be inaccurate, I ask that the Department of Public Health immediately eliminate that application from being eligible for a final certification of registration,” Walsh wrote.
The two shops in question – Green Heart Holistic Health and Pharmaceuticals and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts – have applied to open up in two large locations in Boston. That completely infuriates the mayor, who has been against medical pot from the get-go. Earlier this week he said that he was “dead set” against allowing any dispensaries in his city.
“I have made it very clear to the state that I don’t want these dispensaries in our city,” he said to no-doubt receptive members of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on Monday.
His words came in contrast to comments he made in January, when he said that despite his opposition he would listen to the will of the voters.
“We can’t stop them,” he told reporters at a conference. “As the mayor of the city of Boston, I am going to enforce the law and support the law.”
Maybe he realized that bitching and moaning about application details (which may or not be grounds for dismissing the application) may be all that he can do. Voters approved of the medical marijuana dispensary laws along with medical marijuana in 2012. The state was given the power to license as many as 35 medical marijuana dispensaries.
“I don’t see a clear power to prevent these stores,” Tufts University political science professor Jeffrey Berry told the Boston Globe. “But certainly the thing the mayor can do is to delay this and make their lives miserable.”
The mayor may have some support, too. Conservative Boston doesn’t want the shops in their neighborhoods and already Good Chemistry has said they may look for an alternate location due to neighborhood opposition. Rev. Miniard Culpepper, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church even asked the mayor for help keeping the dispensaries out of town.
Activists, meanwhile, are calling out the mayor on his callous, bullheaded approach.
“A more sensible and compassionate approach than eliminating the Boston applicants at this point would be for the city to work with dispensary operators and community members to address concerns through ongoing collaboration, community engagement, and regulation,” Matthew Allen, executive director Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance said.