Voters in Bourne will be within their rights Monday night at Special Town Meeting if they again decide to prohibit the retail sale of recreational marijuana in their town.
Communities throughout Massachusetts have taken the same stand.
But if voters decide to do so, they should do so with clear eyes.
In the run up to Special Town Meeting, more than the usual amount of letters to the editor have been coming to the Bourne Enterprise, with a majority opposing the two articles that would allow retail recreational sales.
A number of the writers have expressed concern about aspects of the zoning article that they say would allow stores going forward to be too close to areas where youths could congregate, a valid concern.
Some writers, however, see allowing one or more retail stores in Bourne as opening the door to widespread snaring of the youth of this town into a spiral of drug addiction, and causing other serious and criminal problems in town.
This doesn’t align with reality.
Three years ago, the voters of the Commonwealth legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, not to mention its recreational sale.
Right now, individuals age 21 and older legally can carry up to an ounce of marijuana on them in Bourne, and the rest of the state.
Those individuals also can travel a few hundred feet to the west of Main Street in Buzzards Bay and visit a store on Main Street in Wareham, where they can buy marijuana any day of the week.
Since the store opened late last year, Reefer Madness has not overtaken Wareham. Far from it.
Crime has not surged. The initial logistical requirement for remote parking, designed to forestall the traffic jams that hit the first marijuana stores in the state to open, has been dropped.
Now you can drive up and park near the store, as you would to buy a soda or a magazine. The store’s just part of everyday life.
A number of opponents of retail marijuana in Bourne are positing a scenario in which individuals will go to the newly opened store in Bourne, buy marijuana there (as if they somehow mysteriously are unable to buy marijuana next door in Wareham) and go on to start seeking even more powerful drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, leading to addiction, family ruin and fatal overdoses.
Marijuana may indeed be a gateway to addictive, ruinous drugs. But if so, the people of Massachusetts are fine with that. It’s the law of the state.
If the residents of Bourne truly cared about combating an addiction that ruins lives and families and creates illness and kills people, they would shut down the retail package stores and bars in the town, and prohibit the sale of alcohol over the counter and at restaurants in Bourne.
Alcohol has caused and continues to cause far more human wreckage than marijuana.
But they won’t. Alcohol is deeply and historically woven into the culture of the Europeans who came to this land, pushed off the Indians, and took over.
Marijuana isn’t. The substance isn’t part of Western culture. And so it’s suspect. And so some Bourne residents don’t want it available for sale in the town.
They see the issue that way. Others see it differently. On Monday night at Bourne High School, we’ll see who has the most votes. Democracy will prevail.