At Monday night's Select Board meeting-Sept. 9- there was considerable discussion about the potential of a medical marijuana dispensary being located in Cavendish as well as a recent outbreak of criminal activity in Cavendish village. Below is information about the discussion that took place regarding these topics. Other items discussed and voted on will appear in tomorrow's Cavendish Update (9/13/13).
Medical Medical Marijuana Dispensary: This was a heavily discussed item at the meeting, with the select board spending an hour on just this topic.
In understanding the medical marijuana dispensary issue, it is helpful to know that In 2004, the Vermont General Assembly passed S. 76, An Act Relating to Marijuana Use by Persons with Severe Illness. This piece of legislation creates an exemption in state law from criminal penalties for the use of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a debilitating medical condition as long as it is done in compliance with 18 V.S.A. Chapter 86. The law also creates a registry of individuals who are eligible to receive this exemption. VT Criminal Information Center This program is managed by the VT Dept. Of Public Safety and the implementation is the responsibility of the VT Criminal Information Center.
Rich Svec, town manager, said that Amy Gilbert, Executive Director of Green Mountain Apothecare (email@example.com) approached him about the possibility of a medical marijuana dispensary at the Black River Health Center (BRHC). He in turn recommended that she speak with the board president of BRHC, George Timko.
The state has licensed three dispensaries (Burlington, Montpelier, and Brandon) and has one more license to give for southern VT. The application for the last remaining dispensary needed to be filed by Sept. 3, which was between scheduled board meetings of BRHC-meaning that the Health Center board has not had a chance to vote on whether they wanted the dispensary as a tenant.
As part of the Green Mountain Apothecare’s application, Svec had to submit a letter to the Vermont Department of Public Safety (VDPS) regarding the location of BRHC within the town and how it met certain criteria.
Svec read the letter he sent to VDPS. His letter highlighted that while BRHC is not located within a 1,000 feet of a school or day care center, it is adjacent to municipal buildings and parking. In addition, two day care centers are located within 1,300 feet and 1,400 feet respectively of BRHC.
Note that the state can license Green Mountain Apothecare, or another group, without it being site specific. Therefore, if Apothecare is awarded a license, it doesn’t mean that it will automatically be located in Cavendish.
When asked why Cavendish, Gilbert, a resident of Wallingford, explained that a Cavendish resident is on the board of the non profit and suggested BRHC as a possible location. Various people noted that there were much better locations than Cavendish for accessibility for southern VT residents. However, a number of surrounding towns have either passed or are considering ordinances that would ban such dispensaries.
The concern of those in attendance was not whether there should be medical marijuana, but did a dispensary make sense for Cavendish. The overwhelming position of the audience was that it wasn’t appropriate for the town primarily because of public safety and the lack of a police force. Several people noted that the dispensary program, with all the security measures required, should be located in an area where immediate response by the police is possible. In addition, marijuana is being treated like a Class I drug. These medications are available from a pharmacy and/or hospital, both of which have security systems, internal security personal as well as a community police force.
A current tenant of the BRHC raised concerns about this type of program located in a building where she is seeing patients with a variety of issues including substance abuse. While Gilbert was able to explain the security of the California style system they would be using, it was apparent that how the security would be implemented within BRHC had yet to be worked out.
The Select board did not have anything to vote on regarding this issue, but rather pointed out that it was up to the BRHC board to determine if they want Apothecare as a tenant. To that end, the Health Center board will be discussing this issue on Sept. 26 at 7 pm at the BRHC in Cavendish village. This is a public meeting and anyone can attend.
Ultimately, it will be up to the state to decide who is awarded the fourth and final dispensary license. Regardless of who receives it, Cavendish has no zoning or ordinance that would prohibit the opening of such a dispensary whether it would be at the BRHC or another location.
Criminal Activities in Cavendish Village: Dovetailing into the discussion of the medical marijuana dispensary, but occurring at the end of the meeting, three residents of Cavendish came forward with significant problems they have been dealing with in Cavendish village.
The house at 2300 Main Street, blue Victorian next to the Cavendish post office heading west, has recently been renovated to include seven rental units. In the last three to four weeks, there has been screaming, partying, drug use and other activities at 2 and 3 am. Calls to the landlord, who does not live in town, have largely gone unheeded and the police have been called frequently. Not only has Mac Molding been broken into, but also the owner of Minibee’s convenience store has had to deal with everything from items being stolen to his wife being threatened.
Rich Svec reported that it seems that the peak of these activities were taking place around Sept 3. He noted that a truck behind the town garage appears to have had gas syphoned from it and the air conditioner in the town office had been tampered with from the outside.
During this same time period, a number of cars along Main and High streets, in the Cavendish village, were broken into. Consequently, Svec asked the town constable to be present in the area, which he has done multiple times.
Since last week several people who were living at this location, but were not on the lease, were asked to leave and have done so. As a result, things have improved.
Noting that most of the residents of 2300 Main Street are good neighbors, the home and business owners want to know what can be done to keep this from happening in the future. They offered suggestions, such as an ordinance that would require landlords, who have more than 2 units to have an on-site general manager. The Select board didn’t seem to think an ordinance would help, because of the enforcement issue. Selectmen Michele Lindberg, who worked for 4 ½ years as an on site apartment manager, said that it doesn’t have that much effect. There were also questions about the volume of units you could have in an existing space, as well as occupancy levels. Diane McNamara said she was very interesting in programs, such as the one Springfield started-Not in My Town-and would look into that.