Ms. LeClair Aims For Responsible Control Over Medical Marijuana Shops
By: Geoff Spillane
Mashpee resident Mary J. LeClair, 79, a former Barnstable County Commissioner and currently an elected member of the town’s library board of trustees, raised some eyebrows late last week when her name appeared on an application for a medical marijuana dispensary license.
Ms. LeClair was listed as a member of the board of directors of Cape Cod Alternative Medicine Center, Inc., one of nine organizations vying for Massachusetts Department of Public Health approval to open a dispensary in Barnstable County. A news release issued by the organization stated that its intent in filing the application was to assure local and responsible control over the dispensary process, and to guarantee that local communities would be engaged in the operation, and ultimately benefit, from the proposed facility.
After an extensive two-phase review process, the DPH could register up to 35 nonprofit dispensaries across the state, with at least one—but no more than five—in each county. Licenses are expected to be awarded by the end of the year.
Known throughout Mashpee and the region as a tireless volunteer and social activist, Ms. LeClair also serves as chairman of the board of directors of Gosnold on Cape Cod, a Falmouth-based substance abuse treatment organization. She is also vice president and treasurer of the Mashpee Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, and serves as a board member of the Housing Assistance Corporation, Cape Cod Volunteers, Mashpee TV, and the Children’s Cove child advocacy center.
Raymond V. Tamasi, president and chief executive officer of Gosnold, declined to comment on Ms. LeClair’s involvement in the dispensary license application process.
“I am the mother of two, grandmother of three, and now a great-grandmother. I am hardly the poster girl for a medical marijuana facility on Cape Cod, but I am deeply concerned that someone else is going to roll onto Cape Cod with very little concern about whether or not this in our best interest,” Ms. LeClair stated in the news release.
Joining Ms. LeClair as unlikely board of directors of Cape Cod Alternative Medicine Center, Inc. are Kristina Dower, president of the Job Training and Employment Corporation in Hyannis, James B. Stinson, a West Harwich-based attorney, and retired Brewster Police Chief James Ehrhart.
A Medical Marijuana ‘Watchdog’
Reached at her home earlier this week, Ms. LeClair said that she was motivated to get involved with the medical marijuana dispensary application process to make sure that only those in dire need of the treatment receive the drug. She also wants to ensure that any excess funds generated by the nonprofit organization are funneled back into Cape communities, especially to drug and alcohol abuse programs.
“If figured I would put myself on the line and be the watchdog and make sure that money comes back to our communities, as opposed to having someone come here who has no knowledge of the Cape or its unique social issues,” she said. “I also believe this would be a great opportunity to educate people about the use of marijuana for recreation, as opposed to its use for serious medical conditions, such as glaucoma and diabetes. I took everything into consideration before doing this—I did not make this decision in five minutes.”
Ms. LeClair also acknowledged that she has been contacted by some people that are disappointed and upset with her for being associated with a group pursuing a medical marijuana dispensary license.
Mark Forest, who worked with Ms. LeClair in the office of former Congressman William D. Delahunt, was not surprised by her involvement in the application.
“Mary has dedicated a significant time of her work in the community to battle issues of addiction. In spite of the individual views of people, the voters of the commonwealth have had their voices heard. There are concerns about off-Cape applicants for dispensaries, and everyone knows that the projects Mary takes on are for her love of the Cape, and usually successful. She would do an outstanding job maintaining local control and safety if this group were to be awarded a license,” Mr. Forest said.