It has now been more than six weeks since that fateful evening when the Plymouth Board of Selectmen held an open forum for discussion on whether the town of Plymouth should be allowed to hold a town-wide referendum on "allowing" or "not allowing" licensing of commercial marijuana establishments within the boundaries of Plymouth.

It has now been more than six weeks since that fateful evening when the Plymouth Board of Selectmen held an open forum for discussion on whether the town of Plymouth should be allowed to hold a town-wide referendum on "allowing" or "not allowing" licensing of commercial marijuana establishments within the boundaries of Plymouth at their Tuesday evening gathering on July 31. Due to the extremely important significance of this agenda article, there were approximately 500 citizens in attendance. At the onset of "call to open discussion" the "rules of engagement" for citizens "in favor of" and citizens "opposed to" the licensing of these establishments were put forth by Chairman Kenneth A. Tavares. Each citizen wishing to speak was given two to three minutes to state their opinion without interruption from the board or opposing side.

The "in favor" side was selected to speak first followed by the "opposed" side. Each "in favor" citizen presented her or his view without interruption. During presentations by the "opposing" side one citizen was so rudely interrupted by one of the "in favor" attendees that the board chairman had to intervene. The question still in my mind is, "Why did the Board of Selectmen not immediately have that citizen removed?” Well, by the end of this evening we all understood why.

I was present for the entire meeting that evening and was honored to be chosen to speak as one in favor of allowing the citizens of Plymouth the God-given right to participate in a town-wide referendum which would put an end to this "childish name-calling, ludicrous situation." The only argument that held even a suggestion of viability was the fact that in 2016 a statewide vote took place. On that ballot sheet was Article 4 which required a yes or no response. "Should the voters of Massachusetts approve the retail sales in designated licensed marijuana establishments?" This passed and we now live in a state that has approved the commercial sale of marijuana products which will be licensed by individual cities and towns. Included in this referendum was a mention that cities and towns could "opt out" of this statewide option by the respective city councils for cities, and/or the boards of selectmen for towns such as Plymouth mandating a separate referendum for citizens to determine this fate for their towns and cities without state interference. Oh, in case you have not realized, Massachusetts is now in violation of federal law which prohibits retail sales of marijuana in all states, cities and towns.

In case there are readers out there that do not know or have forgotten how four out of five selectmen voted, I will again mention their decisions. With the exception of Selectman Provenzano, they voted to eliminate the "legal" opportunity of the voting citizens of Plymouth to decide whether or not the town of Plymouth, America's Hometown, the founding town of the United States of America which is about to honor our forefathers with a 400th year celebration of their sacrifice, initiative, faith, accountability, and courage. Attributes of which I question may be missing in Mr. Tavares, Ms. Joyce, Ms. Cavacco, and Mr. Mahoney. Imagine a selectman whose life has been associated with the education of our children, voting in favor of commercial marijuana establishments. Imagine a selectmen whose life has been dedicated to the health care of other people voting in favor of commercial marijuana establishments. Where are we headed?

During the taking of the vote everyone heard from each of the five selectmen as to why they were about to vote for or against our citizens having the right to decide the fate of having America's Hometown involved in the "federally illegal" commercial sales of a gateway drug such as marijuana.

Selectman Joyce was the first to vote. She stated that personally she is not in favor of commercial sales of marijuana in Plymouth. She then referred to the 2016 statewide referendum where slightly over 50 percent of the voting citizens in Plymouth said "yes" on that ballot. And so she did not see the necessity of an additional vote.

Next came Vice Chairman Provenzano who eloquently stated that he believed the right thing to do was to have a separate vote for Plymouth so that the citizens could decide for themselves if, in fact, they wanted to legalize marijuana commercial establishments.

Next came Chairman Tavares. He began by stating that he is personally not in favor of commercial sales of marijuana. However, he also stated the vote had already been executed in 2016 and he had no choice but to vote no to a town-wide referendum.

Next we had Selectman Mahoney who stated that the town of Plymouth is going to lose $1,000,000 in the near future as a result of the nuclear power plant closure. He looked at the crowd of voters and asked "How are we going to replace that loss to our budget?" Enough said, I guess his mind is strictly on the supposed financial benefit to the town for sales of a "federally illegal" drug, not the common sense thought of the ramifications to our youth, and the reputation Plymouth has within the United States of America.

Next came Selectman Cavacco. She, as well, stated that personally she does not want to see commercial sales of marijuana in Plymouth. However, a vote was already taken on a statewide ballot in 2016 so a redundant vote is unnecessary. Previously, via the news media, Ms. Cavacco, when asked how she would vote on the question of commercial marijuana establishments, her response was she will “do the right thing." Seriously, doing the right thing is removing the opportunity for the citizens Plymouth to vote on such a serious matter?

After the vote was completed, the crowd in attendance quickly exited the hall. As this exodus was taking place I approached each selectman, extending my hand and thanking them for the opportunity to speak publicly and stating that I fully understood their reason for voting the way they did. They may, at that time, have misunderstood my intention as one of acquiescence to their denial of a referendum. My thank you was genuine but I in no way even suggested my agreeing with their lack of sound judgment. I had in fact realized that they were considering only the financial aspect of their acquiescence to a serious lack of common sense.

I believe that four of our selectmen have placed the almighty dollar ahead of common sense and loyalty to their constituency. I believe in my heart that what transpired that fateful evening is the beginning of the end of Plymouth as we know it. I was not born in Plymouth but my family and I have lived here for almost 45 years. I deeply love this town and what it stands for and I sincerely believe this is the most repulsive and shameful act ever brought upon the future and well-being of our children, grandchildren, and every voting citizen in the past 400 years.

Our Board of Selectmen had a choice. The state referendum gave them that choice and, with the exception of Mr. Provenzano, they ignored what was the correct choice and shamefully voted for the money, not their constituents.

One last thought. Term expiration dates for the four selectmen who took your vote away from you are: Shelagh Joyce - 2019; John Mahoney - 2020; Betty Cavacco - 2020; Kenneth Tavares - re-elected this year (recall anyone?).

D. E. Brown, Plymouth