Following the demonstration by Spectrum Health Care of how not to approach a city about opening a health care clinic, Manna Wellness appears determined to work with others in bringing a medical marijuana clinic to the city. This approach, along with City Hall's willingness to get ahead of the process, suggests that this can be accomplished with minimal disruption.
Confident that it had state and federal law on its side, Spectrum of Worcester big-footed its way into Pittsfield, alarming residents who possessed legitimate concerns about where a methadone clinic would be located. Neighborhoods were in an uproar, lawsuits flew, and the City Council ended up divided against itself, with half the council also angry with Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and his city solicitor. If Spectrum had decided to be a good neighbor from the beginning all of this drama could have been avoided.
Manna Wellness seems to want to be a good neighbor as it seeks to put a production and retail medical marijuana facility in Pittsfield by 2014. A spokesman has indicated that Manna will work with city officials on zoning and other issues. A zoning amendment, drawn up by the Community Development Board and city officials, will be the subject of a public hearing Tuesday before the City Council, which must ultimately vote on the proposal.
When Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana initiative creating licensed dispensaries last November it became inevitable that the largest city in the Berkshires would be selected as a site. The Bianchi administration began laying the groundwork, and while other Berkshire communities are seeking extensions to prepare, which Attorney General Martha Coakley has ruled is permissible, they shouldn't procrastinate. Instead they should learn from the mistakes of communities in other states and from the successful measures adopted by communities. Medical marijuana can help those suffering from debilitating illnesses, and towns and cities must be ready for clinics so they can serve patients while integrating themselves into the community.