Chelsea city councillors are looking at ways
in which they can legally find a way to reserve some of the recreation
marijuana licenses for Chelsea residents.
Councillor Roy Avellaneda forwarded an order
recently to reserve at least two of the four recreational licenses for Chelsea
residents, as so many residents have been impacted by the War on Drugs and the
prosecution of marijuana possession crimes.
Avellaneda said his order is to amend the
current retail marijuana ordinance in similar fashion to Somerville and Boston.
At the state level, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) signaled early on
that it would approve licenses quicker in communities like Chelsea that
historically have been heavily impacted by drug prosecution.
However, Avellaneda and other councillors
said they have only seen well-heeled investors from out of town turning up to
take advantage of that designation in Chelsea.
“The recent rush we have seen by well-funded
and politically connected individuals and groups to apply for the available
licenses puts those living in communities like Chelsea at a serious
disadvantage,” he said. “The goal of the legislation I have introduced is to
provide a two-year window for two of the four licenses just for Chelsea
residents or a business entity comprised of 60 percent Chelsea residents…I
think we would have better host agreements and community benefits
offered by an individual or group based from Chelsea than from someone with no
connections to this city. Should we allow the money made from these lucrative
licenses leave the city? Or should we try to keep that revenue here?”
The Council held a Committee of the Whole
meeting on Monday night, Feb. 4, to discuss the matter and try to find a
Council President Damali Vidot said she and
Avellaneda and the rest of the Council seem to be on the same page with the
idea, but may differ on how to accomplish it.
“My concern at Monday’s meeting and a
couopld of other councillor’s concerns were that we could be interfering with a
business’s right ot commerce,” she said. “If I own an adult-use shop and want
to sell it, I don’t know if we can limit who you sell it to. We don’t want to
cut people off at the knees. That will effect investors because they may not
want to enter into a place where there are so many limits on their
investment…Also, we’re only allowing the rich to get richer. If you live in
Chelsea and have the money to buy one of these, you’re obviously already rich.”
She said the marijuana licenses mimic the
regulations for liquor stores, and there are no such limits on liquor licenses.
That said, she agreed that Avellaneda has a
good idea that needs to be explored and hopefully implemented in some fashion
to help Chelsea residents – to empower those economically who have been
affected in the past.
Avellaneda said the idea is consistent with
the recent 100 percent residency requirement for all new police and fire hires,
as well as the affordable housing requirement for Chelsea residents.
“It asks that any new jobs created in
Chelsea have a priority for Chelsea residents,” he said. “I doubt Chelsea would
lose any opportunities or see a delay in applications because any outsider
looking to open in Chelsea would look to partner with a Chelsea resident rather
than risk losing a chance at a license by waiting two years.”
Western Front Moving
Quickly on Webster
The Economic Empowerment marijuana proposal
on Webster Avenue is moving quickly through the local process for a marijuana
dispensary at 121 Webster Ave.
Western Front is a minority-owned firm that
received the Economic Empowerment designation from the state last spring, and
had its community meeting shortly after. The firm plans to open a dispensary
and also employ those who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs –
particularly people from the Chelsea. The ownership of the company comes from
Boston and Cambridge though.
Western Front is scheduled to go before the
Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. It is the first ZBA hearing
in Chelsea for a marijuana proposal.
The Chelsea Police Department will increase impaired driving patrols on local roads with grant funds from the Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). Chelsea Police will join local departments across the state as well as the Massachusetts State Police in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Overenforcement mobilization and public information campaign.
This year’s campaign will urge drivers drinking alcohol or using marijuana and other drugs to plan ahead and designate a sober driver, use a ride-share service or take public transportation.
“Impaired drivers create a dangerous situation for everyone around them, threatening the destruction of lives and entire families,” said Chief Brian A. Kyes. “This grant will help increase our efforts during the busy summer travel season to keep our roads free of impaired drivers and avoid the tragedy they wreak.”
“Getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, using marijuana or both is one of the most dangerous things drivers can do,” said Jeff Larason, Director of the Highway Safety Division. “A little planning can save your life or someone else’s. Regret or remorse won’t bring someone back.”
Marijuana or marijuana-type drugs were the most prevalent types of drugs found in people killed in crashes from 2011 to 2016.
From 2015 to 2016, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased 9 percent (109 to 119).
From 2011-2015, 82 percent of impaired drivers in fatal crashes were men.
From 2011-2015, 45 percent of all alcohol-related driver fatalities were ages 21 to 34.
National Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. On average, more than 10,000 people have died each year (2012- 2016) in drunk-driving crashes. To put it in perspective, that’s equal to about 20 jumbo jets crashing, with no survivors.
In 2016, almost one in five children (14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.
Drugs were present in 43 percent of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result in 2015, more frequently than alcohol was present.
NHTSA’s 2013–2014 roadside survey found drugs in 22 percent of all drivers both on weekend nights and on weekdays.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects—slows reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane.
Mixing alcohol and marijuana may dramatically produce effects greater than either drug on its own.
To view the Highway Safety Division’s (HSD) “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” TV spots, or for more information about the HSD’s public information campaign, go to www.mass.gov/DriveSober
The Western Front company is proposing to locate a medical marijuana dispensary and a marijuana industry training program at the Parkway Plaza off of Webster Street.
A public meeting to hear and discuss the proposal will be held at City Hall tonight, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m.
Attorney Tim Flaherty said that Western Front is led by Marvin E. Gilmore Jr., a World War II veteran who has spent most of his life helping low-income people get into profitable industries so that they could move into the middle class.
Flaherty said the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has already certified Western Front as an Economic Empowerment proposal, which makes it unique compared to traditional proposals. It also puts it somewhat on the fast-track in the state process. Chelsea is designated as a community where Economic Empowerment proposals are allowed due to what is termed an inequitable enforcement of drug laws regarding marijuana in the past.
Flaherty said to be certified, a proposal has to meet three of six criteria, and Western Front met all six.
“This is a very appropriate site we think for this use and complies with zoning in Chelsea,” said Flaherty. “What we will do with the space is we will operate a dispensary on one side and we will operate the other side as a workforce training space. Our business model is to have Chelsea residents and have people previously impacted by the War on Drugs benefitting from this proposal. There are certain types of offenses that disqualify people from being hired by Western Front, but a conviction for possession of marijuana would not prohibit them.”
The proposal at the moment is for a medical marijuana dispensary to operate, but Flaherty said they would like to become a recreational facility if they can get the financing and approvals. For now, though, they will be apply for medical.
The workforce training center will exist to educate Chelsea residents about how to get involved and qualified to work in the burgeoning marijuana industry.
The proposal, Flaherty stressed, is unique in that it is meant to benefit people in Chelsea that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs in the past.
He said they haven’t signed a Host Community Agreement with the City yet, but he said a standard condition is a 3 percent impact fee. Another 3 percent fee would be imposed as a local sales tax option. Other mitigation could come if the proposal is approved.
Flaherty said they will have 24/7 video and audio surveillance, with steel doors and a security guard on site.
After the community meeting, if there is not major opposition, the proposal would move to a full application with the state. If approved there, the application would come back to the Chelsea Planning Board for a Special Permit.
POLICE Briefs By Seth Daniel
TRIED TO KILL POLICE OFFICER WITH CAR
On Nov. 3 at 1:10 p.m., a victim of a Hit and Run flagged down a CPD officer on a detail. The victim reported that he had been struck by the vehicle, which fled the scene located at 280 Second St. The suspect’s vehicle was located and the detail officer attempted to stop the vehicle with verbal commands from the roadway. The officer was forced to jump out of the way to avoid being struck as the operator continued to flee the scene at a high rate of speed. The operator was later stopped by other CPD units and the operator was placed into custody
Marcio Mezabaca, 32, of 220 Broadway, was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of property damage, failing to stop for police, assault to murder and resisting arrest.
STOLE CELL PHONE
On Nov. 5, at noon, a female known to a CPD officer on patrol was observed in the company of a male in the area of Cherry Street and Everett Avenue. The officer observed from a distance the known female pushing the victim, and then grabbing his cellphone. Once she observed the officer, she fled the area. She was located a short distance away and placed into custody.
Meghan Mastrangelo, 36, of Revere, was charged with unarmed robbery.
ROBBED WITH BALL BAT
On Oct. 26 at 5:59 p.m., an armed robbery was reported at the Corner Market, located at 803 Broadway. The victim clerk stated that an unknown male party wearing a ski mask entered the store, struck him with a wooden bat style object, and then made away with money, an unknown amount of $30 lottery tickets and cigarettes.
The victim was treated on scene by EMS for an abrasion sustained on his left arm. The suspect was described as a black male approximately 45-47 years old, 5’8” tall, wearing a black ski mask, black jacket, blue jeans, black shoes, and gloves.
Please contact CPD Detectives if you have information to report.
PROBLEM OUTSIDE RESTAURANT
On Nov. 1, at 6:19 p.m., a disturbance was reported outside Chung Wah Restaurant, located at 460 Broadway. Officers observed a female who appeared to be intoxicated displaying boisterous behavior and disturbing the flow of pedestrian and traffic. After further investigation, she was placed into custody for being disorderly
Alisha Cohen, 38, of 36 Winthrop Rd., was charged with being disorderly and possession of an alcoholic beverage.
On Oct. 29 at 10:32 a.m., a male subject was placed into custody after he had been observed breaking a window on the old Salvation Army Donation Center, located at 456 Broadway. The officer observed the male subject punch the window as a result of an apparent argument between him and an unknown female party. He was placed into custody for malicious destruction of property.
Andrew Babigumira, 31, homeless, was charged with wanton destruction.
STABBED FOR DEALING DRUGS
On Oct. 29, at 5:05 p.m., officers responded to a reported stabbing at 744 Broadway #2. A victim was located inside the apartment with minor lacerations to the hand. The victim stated that a dispute arose with his roommate over him dealing narcotics out of their apartment.
The suspect was found by CPD offices and placed under arrest.
By Seth Daniel
Those who work in the Chelsea Courthouse and those who frequent it with criminal cases know that there aren’t a lot of great days marked in the building.
It’s not exactly a place to come celebrate.
But occasionally, the smiles come out and the celebratory cake gets cut, and that one day of happiness in the Court is Drug Court graduation day.
On Tuesday, June 27, just such a celebration took place in the Chelsea Courthouse and four graduates from the grueling life-turnaround program celebrated sobriety, clean living and getting their path straight.
“Honestly, nothing good really ever happens in a courthouse,” said Judge Matthew Nestor. “One of the only good days in a courthouse like this is drug court graduation day. It’s really a great day for the participants. We’re proud to have watched them come such a long way and to see that they have accomplished a lot. It’s a day by day thing for them, but we’re proud.”
Drug Court is a special program pioneered and refined at Chelsea District Court many years ago, and a program that has been replicated in numerous other jurisdictions where drug use and addiction is a problem. Some defendants are given the opportunity to enter the program in lieu of their punishment, and strict and rigorous requirements for sobriety are enacted upon them.
Tara Fleming, a graduate, said she had been through it all – on the streets, doing drugs and making a life out of coming in and out of the court. That was until she began Drug Court in 2014. Now, she is on the right path and said the graduation day marked a huge milestone in her life.
“It has been an absolute turnaround,” she said. “I was homeless on the street. I hurt myself on the streets. I ended up in drug court after being arrested three times in two weeks. It saved my life. I’ve been fighting through it every since. I refuse to go back.”
Another graduate, Heather Harper, described the day as “colossal.”
“It’s colossal because since the age of 14 I’ve doing this – drugs and court,” she said. “Drugs, prostitution, everything. I’ve done it all. This is great right now to have accomplished this. Nov. 8, 2015 is the date that stands out to me. That’s the day I decided to start this. Eighteen months of Chelsea Drug Court and this is it. I have one thing that I like to remember, ‘Never look back unless it’s to see how far you’ve come.’”
Other graduates included Christopher Bonsai and Edward Sarmanian.