Leominster – City Council President David Cormier criticized the council’s recent vote on medical-marijuana facilities Wednesday after the council chose to delay any decision on the three pending applications to open dispensaries and cultivation centers in Leominster.
“This whole thing about sweeping it under the carpet isn’t sitting well with me and these applicants deserve answers to their questions,” Cormier said, adding that he had refrained from commenting during Monday night’s discussion due to his role as council president.
Cormier said Wednesday that he felt some councilors might be confused about whether the council is determining if medical-marijuana will be allowed in Leominster, rather than just choosing what nonprofits will be allowed to operate in the city.
“I think it’s important that people understand this isn’t an issue for the City Council to decide whether we want medical-marijuana in our town or we don’t,” he said.
Despite a formal recommendation from the council’s Ways and Means Committee to grant a letter of non-opposition to the dispensary applicant Prime Wellness Centers Inc., a majority of the council voted to table the application, as well as an application from the nonprofit Alternative Therapies Group Inc.
Cormier, who had voted against tabling both applications, said he felt the applicants currently before the council are qualified to run facilities in Leominster and have been able to demonstrate that.
He also criticized the decision to wait until after the November vote to legalize recreational marijuana statewide before returning to the issue of local facilities.
At-large Councilor Claire Freda, who had recommended tabling the applications Monday on behalf of the Legal Affairs Committee, said Wednesday that the vote on recreational marijuana was only part of her motivation.
“I think I made it clear I felt the rubric process didn’t work. We were guessing at some of the answers we didn’t have information for,” she said, explaining that she placed more blame on the grading process the city had used to vet applicants.
Cormier also referred to waiting until after November to make a decision as holding the applicants hostage, which Freda described as being unfair.
“I totally disagree with that,” she said. “We didn’t get an answer from anyone as to whether they could be all set up for medical and then immediately go to recreational.”
Apart from Cormier, only Ways and Means Committee Chair Gail Feckley and Ward 4 Councilor Mark Bodanza voted against tabling the applications from Alternative Therapies Group and Prime Wellness Centers. At-large councilors Sue Chalifoux Zephir and John Dombrowski did not take part in the votes due to absence and conflicts of interest respectively.
Bodanza said Wednesday that he has since researched the issue further and still believes the council needs to move forward with a decision.
“After researching the federal side of it, I really conclude the only responsible thing we can do is to vote for it,” he said.
Bodanza also defended the process the council had followed in vetting applicants.
“It’s been a legitimate process and I think we’ve handled it the best we could and done well with it,” he said.
Moving forward, Cormier explained that he hopes the council would be able to reflect on the issue further during the next two weeks and possibly make a decision during their next meeting.
“This isn’t going to go away and I’m frustrated,” he said. “We need to do the work we’re elected to do and kicking this down the road is not an option.”
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Leominster Council Wrong To Delay Marijuana Decisions
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