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Terry Cowgill
The line on January 11, opening day for recreational sales of marijuana at Theory Wellness on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, Mass., stretched out to Route 7 past a table set up by the Marketplace Cafe offering free hot coffee.

Weed is here. Now what? A Community Forum on the legalization of marijuana

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By Sunday, Mar 10, 2019 News 5

Great Barrington — A community forum “Weed is Here. Now What?” on the wide-ranging implications of the legal sale of marijuana for recreational purposes will be held Wednesday, March 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

Community leaders representing law enforcement, youth services, local government and the drug treatment community will discuss the changing landscape of marijuana’s place in southern Berkshire County with an extended question and answer period from the audience.

“The goal is to learn about what the changes in the laws are and how they are being enforced, and to start to understand how it impacts our community,” said Erik Bruun, co-chairman of the South Berkshire Community Health Coalition, co-sponsor of the event with the Railroad Street Youth Project and The Berkshire Edge.

“This is a complicated topic. Before you could go to jail for two years if you sold marijuana in downtown Great Barrington, and maybe you still can if you don’t have a license,” he continued. “Today, selling marijuana represents tax revenue for the town. It is the hottest sector in the Berkshire economy. Off-duty police officers are paid to make sure customers are safe as they stay in line to purchase recreational pot. What are the new guardrails? What does it mean for who we are as a community?”

Panelists will include Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington, Great Barrington Selectman Ed Abrahams, RSYP Deputy Director Chris Tucci, Center for Motivation and Change Clinical Director Dr. David Lane, and representatives from the Great Barrington and Sheffield police departments. RSYP Executive Director Ananda Timpane will be the moderator.

The event is part of a series of forums and events initiated by the coalition and RSYP to inform and support parents on the challenges of helping their children navigate issues related to substance use and other risky behaviors.

The next event will be “Good Science for Good Parenting” on how to use science to talk to teenagers about drugs and alcohol on April 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Berkshire South Regional Community Center.

About Railroad Street Youth Project & South Berkshire Community Health Coalition

At Railroad Street, youth take the lead. They explore their full potential and become equipped to meet the challenging transition to adulthood.  RSYP’s professional staff matches youth-generated ideas with community resources, empowering young people to create and oversee a wide range of innovative, life-changing projects. Unmatched in mission and scope, RSYP excels in helping youth find their voice and realize the benefits of their commitment to themselves and their community.

RSYP is home to the South Berkshire Community Health Coalition. The Coalition is made up of a wide array of community agencies including RSYP, the Southern Berkshire and Berkshire Hills Regional School Districts, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli’s office, Multicultural BRIDGE, Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Coalition (BOAPC)/Berkshire Regional Planning Agency (BRPC), The Brien Center, the Police Departments of Great Barrington, Sheffield, Egremont, and Stockbridge, Fairview Hospital, Berkshire South Community Center, and the towns of Great Barrington, Egremont, Stockbridge and Sheffield.

The goal of the Coalition is to advance the wellbeing of the community’s youth and environment by making strategic investments in young people, families and those who guide them.

To learn more about RSYP and the South Berkshire Community Health Coalition, visit www.rsyp.org.

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5 Comments   Add Comment

  1. boblatham says:

    From my point of view, now it’s the right time to start legalizing marijuana. By such actions, the local budgets will increase, and the community can thrive. Moreover, the government and local authorities would have the right to sell it, and this will decrease the activity of some individuals and crime gangs. Recently, I’ve stumbled across useful content about the consequences of legalizing marijuana in Canada. And it brought some positive changes.

  2. Janice Storti says:

    I have no problem with the legal sale of marijuana. My problem stems from the number of venues that are slated to become cannabis enterprises in Great Barrington There is no question that these shops will bring tax money into the town, but we are a small, quaint town. I would hate to see us lose that distinction. If I’m not mistaken, three more venues will open in Great Barrington and one in Sheffield on Route 7. That seems excessive. Imagine the traffic that will flow in and out of Great Barrington. None of the venues has adequate parking to facilitate the number of cars that will require spaces. In accordance with the law, this entire situation needs revisiting. Hopefully the community forum will provide more information.

    1. Laura C says:

      Janice you are right. I am worried about the lack of parking also. The one on downtown Main Street has absolutely no parking spaces except for the ones in back of the store, which I am sure are dedicated for employees. Main Street will be a mess and I am sure the other merchants will complain that no one can get to their stores. But I am sure that it will create more jobs in town (extra parking enforcement officers, parking lot monitors at Fosters and Wheeler & Taylor’s lot). Look at Theory Wellness, people park at the Price Chopper lot, and I have seen a few crossing the road from the restaurant across the street.

  3. W.C. says:

    Why have we gone the road with a gateway drug. Look at the vehicles going to Wellness, most have out of state plates.

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