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Response to Councilman Phil Cohen special newsletter on Cannabis Dispensaries


Dear Editor:

Dear Councilman Cohen,

Thanks for sharing your extensive thoughts on the cannabis dispensaries and your frequent communications. I would like to take issue with some of your statements that echo those of Mayor Bhalla, Michael Russo, Commissioner Allen and others in Team Bhalla. I find it disingenuous to criticize Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher who undoubtedly got things wrong during the first set of meetings and then talk about how you and the other Council members amended the ordinances at least three times after. It logically follows that you ( the mayor and 8 council people in total) got the ordinances wrong . This is a new industry and everybody had to learn about how to manage it. The ad honimen attacks politicize the issues unnecessarily and makes the second ward residents feel like we are ignored and punished through no fault of our own. Blaming your colleagues on the council for recognizing that they made mistakes and trying to fix them does feel wrong to me, don’t you agree?

You continue to repeat faulty logic and confuse the issue of whether we should have cannabis dispensaries with votes on other matters like decriminalization. You continue to mix up debate about location and existence and insist on an idea that they support social justice when, in reality, it is favoring mostly out of state corporations and neighboring political families. No dispensaries as of my knowledge have been awarded to those formerly imprisoned for cannabis offenses. Yes I know that 75% of the 2% tax will be allocated to a number of unspecified ( as far as I know) social justice initiatives but that number pales in comparison with the projected profits that the owners will receive. Is that your idea of social justice?

You said that as a lawyer you are concerned with protecting the city from liability, how would the fact that the record reflects massive opposition to a number of dispensaries in residential areas and across schools (that were rushed before a change in regulations that would make them prohibited just a few weeks later ) help the city’s case in the unfortunate situation that an incident would occur?

If I may I would like to respectfully ask one more question with respect to the new ordinances that the Mayor and the council proposed and passed. Since the limit was set at 6 and there are at least 6 conditionally approved dispensaries and more that are grandfathered aren’t you closing the barn gate after all the animals have escaped?


Roberto Verthelyi


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