As towns across the Island begin to discuss the implications of the new state medical marijuana law, the West Tisbury police chief brought the issue before the town selectmen for discussion this week.
Police chief Dan Rossi said he would like to see the town adopt a bylaw that prohibits smoking medical marijuana in public places. The chief asked the selectmen to place an article with the proposed bylaw on the annual town meeting warrant in April.
Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative in November making medical marijuana legal in the commonwealth. The state department of public health is still developing rules and regulations for the new law.
“It is what it is as far as medical marijuana being passed,” the chief said. “[But] if some family on the beach is sitting next to someone with a medical marijuana card . . . some people just might not want to be around it.”
Mr. Rossi said other Island police chiefs are proposing a similar bylaw to their respective selectmen.
But selectman Richard Knabel said he thought the issue might be better addressed on an Islandwide basis.
“My concern is if we become the town who does this . . . it could differ from other towns,” he said.
Selectman and board chairman Cynthia Mitchell said she liked the chief’s approach.
“If other towns in the commonwealth are moving forward with something like this and if it’s as you say, other towns on the Island move forward with it, I don’t see the problem to put it on the warrant for discussion and vote,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “I don’t see this as particularly controversial.”
But Mr. Knabel said he saw no urgency, and selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd, who is also a police sergeant, could not participate in the discussion or vote. With no majority vote at hand, selectmen took no action on the request and instead referred it to the all-Island selectmen’s meeting scheduled for next month.
“We’ll wait on it then and maybe revisit it,” Chief Rossi said.
In other business, town administrator Jennifer Rand updated the selectmen on the status of the North Tisbury bridge project over the Mill River Ford. Ms. Rand said the guard rail on the second side of the bridge will be replaced in the near future with a metal railing that matches the other side. The project to replace the entire bridge with a new culvert system is on hold until state funding becomes available.
“Frankly, because it’s in very good condition they may replace the guard rail and linger,” Ms. Rand said of the state highway department.
The selectmen also signed off on a letter to the state Department of Transportation to move forward with changing the intersection at Old County and State Roads. The board requested that a portion of the green space at the crossing be cut back to accommodate safe turns for large trucks.