WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy held a public hearing in western Massachusetts, Monday night.
Around 100 people attended the hearing at West Springfield High School, to share their comments and concerns regarding possible changes to the new state law legalizing recreational marijuana.
Some residents said they want to leave the law alone, and not change what voters approved in November. Others wanted to allow cities and towns to opt-in to retail sales of recreational marijuana, rather than require a ballot measure in order to opt-out.
Mayors from Westfield, Holyoke, West Springfield and Springfield provided testimony either in person, or in writing, to the lawmakers who make up the Joint Committee.
West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt expressed his frustration with a ballot measure being required for a town to ban marijuana sales instead of creating an ordinance, after he said West Springfield voted not to pass Question 4. He also said he would like marijuana to be taxed at a rate that will benefit the town.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said in his testimony he does not want mayors or select board members to be able to ban marijuana without hearing from their residents.
Residents said they were glad the hearing was in Western Massachusetts. Josh Mintzer of Easthampton told 22News, “Very pleased that they are specifically coming out and listening to us out here. Especially given that western Massachusetts very much overwhelmingly passed legalization. I think it’s important to have our views respected and heard here.”
Towns in Massachusetts, like Wilbraham, who voted no on Question 4 are considering moving forward with a ballot measure to ban the sale of recreational marijuana.
The Committee will hold additional hearings to discuss bills that have been filed relating to the recreational marijuana law, and to hear more public comment in other parts of the state.