The process of legalizing marijuana use by adults in Massachusetts has been done responsibly so far. The greater New Bedford area is now moving to the next phase.

While it may seem slow to some people, the legalized sale of marijuana to adults has moved at a responsible and deliberate pace. It wasn't that long ago that people who were suffering from cancer and other crippling diseases had to fear arrest and costly legal expenses if they were found in possession of marijuana, a substance they needed to tolerate the effects of their medical condition.

Massachusetts first legalized and made available medical cannabis for residents who had the consent of their doctor. The story of medical marijuana in Massachusetts is there never was much of a story for most people not involved in the new market.

But there was one casualty.

There was a state trooper killed by a person who had a medical marijuana prescription and that should be kept in the mind of all lawmakers.  Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas Clardy was just 44 years old when he was killed in the accident. David Njuguna, a legal immigrant to the country, was charged with driving under the influence and manslaughter in the death of Trooper Clardy. The widow of the late state police officer has filed suit against Mr. Njuguna.

Now we are moving to open more cannabis shops for adults in greater New Bedford. The deadline for this round of application to the City of New Bedford closes on May 6. There might be as many as five applications to the Whaling City by the deadline. This is an interesting development because as recently as a few months ago there were complaints by marijuana enthusiasts that nobody could qualify for a recreational license in New Bedford.

Fairhaven has had a well-run medical cannabis retailer, Bask, in operation since February of 2018. That facility is located in the district that has been zoned by the voters at Town Meeting to offer recreational cannabis to adults. Bask has demonstrated they understand and appreciate the responsibility and trust the people of Fairhaven have placed in their hands.

The historic relationship between Bask and the people of Fairhaven made the town the first location on SouthCoast for cancer patients and other folks with medical needs to legally obtain the cannabis their doctors had prescribed.

There are recreational stores in Fall River and Wareham already in operation. The leaders in most other SouthCoast towns are in conversation with cannabis entrepreneurs.

So far, the rollout has been done properly. The key is to continue to offer licenses to responsible businesses and to maintain a healthy respect for the good and the bad that can come from adults using controlled intoxicants.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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