NEWPORT — The message from the Newport city council on Monday night was clear. There will be no medical marijuana dispensaries allowed within the city. The council agreed to new zoning language that would ban the possibility of a dispensary opening up in Newport.
Vermont has four approved dispensaries already, with 1,061 registered medical marijuana patients. Within the last year, the number of patients approved to use medical marijuana in Vermont has increased by 90 percent.
“This was about medical marijuana, not general use, only available by prescription,” Newport resident Pam Ladds said. “It’s an affordable and effective treatment for many diseases. The city council was against it from a place of ignorance as to the medical uses of marijuana, and cloaked their argument in “illegality,” despite it being the state that wants the dispensaries.”
Since 2004, Vermont has allowed patients with certain illnesses to use marijuana medicinally to help with pain management, as well as appetite stimulation. But as far as dispensaries go, they have only been operating in the state for less than a year now.
The dispensaries are located in Brattleboro, Montpelier, Brandon, and Burlington. For patients in the Northeast Kingdom, traveling to these locations is not very convenient. Only 705 people actually use the state’s four dispensaries.
“The move by city council was absurd and unnecessary,” Ladds went on to say. “Current zoning laws would have prevented a downtown location anyway, so changing the zoning was totally redundant. It also ignored several community members, and four out of the five planning commission members. It is dangerous to insert something in the bylaws that is intended to prevent a medical decision.”
House lawmakers are looking to approve two more dispensaries. They are also looking into adding post traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana.
The Newport city council said that other communities within the Northeast Kingdom could host a dispensary, and that they needed to step up to the plate.