School Department Provides Input for the Hatfield Planning Board on Recreational Marijuana

Dear Members of the Hatfield Community, 

The Hatfield Planning Board held an informational gathering meeting on February 21, 2018 to hear input from Hatfield Town Officials and various stakeholders regarding the retail growing, manufacturing, and selling of recreational marijuana in Hatfield.  Below is what was shared with Committee members from the Hatfield Public Schools:


February 21, 2018

Dear Members of the Hatfield Planning Board,

Tonight, I address the Board on behalf of both the school administration, as well as, the members of the Hatfield School Committee. The School Department clearly recognizes the perceived economic benefits that many municipalities believe will come with the legalization of recreational marijuana; mainly revenue from taxes and fees.  We also acknowledge that a majority of citizens in Hatfield supported the recent referendum question legalizing the growing and selling of recreational marijuana.  As the Planning Board develops regulations to deal with this recent change, the School Department urges the Board to consider the impact any decisions it makes will have on the children of Hatfield.

The Hatfield Public Schools is committed to educating our students about the dangers of marijuana use.  To address the dangers of substance abuse, the School District has recently adopted the “Life Skills” Program; an evidence-based program supported by the Northwest District Attorney’s Office for students in grades 4-9.  In addition, our school counselors, nurses, health and P.E. teachers, have worked with our students on learning about the negative effects of marijuana use. The Schools have also worked closely with local and state law enforcement agencies to keep drugs out of the school. We have witnessed firsthand the detrimental effect this drug has had on some of our teens.

A study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2012 outlines the safety risks of smoked marijuana use and the physical and mental health consequences on adolescents. These include: impairing shortterm memory, attention, judgment, and other cognitive functions along with impairing coordination and balance and increasing heart rate.  Long term conditions noted include: addiction, risk of chronic cough and bronchitis, and an increased risk of anxiety, depression and even schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. The THC (tetrahydrocannibinol) concentrations in today's marijuana have been shown to be significantly higher than 25 years ago.  Parents/grandparents who may have used marijuana as young adults may not realize how potent today's marijuana is.

The School Department is concerned about the possibility of shops marketing towards children using commonly recognized look-alike candy wrappers and designs. This has happened in other states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.  The School Department is requesting that the Planning Board consider a moratorium on retail shops within a half mile of either school; particularly on those streets that are used by students who walk to and from school.  Also, that the Board empowers law enforcement and the Board of Health to conduct local compliance checks for underage sales. The School Department also encourages the Board to disallow home delivery of recreational marijuana and maintain a 21 and older entry to any on-premise social consumption sites in Town.  

A Prevention Needs Assessment Survey done by the SPIFFY Coalition in 2017 in grades 8, 10, and 12 throughout Hampshire County, indicated that there is a direct correlation between the likelihood of children trying marijuana and the favorable attitude adults in their lives have towards the use of marijuana.  With this in mind, both the Hatfield Public School Administration and the members of the Hatfield School Committee asks that the Hatfield Planning Board be careful when drafting regulations on the production and the use of marijuana and to not send our children a mixed message.

Thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns on this very important topic.   


John F. Robert