BOSTON (CBS) – A man who made some disturbing comments at a public hearing about a proposed medical marijuana dispensary on Newbury Street said it was “clearly satire.”
During a hearing for the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday, Back Bay resident Oliver Curme stepped to the microphone to speak out against the proposal, but his reasons were jaw-dropping.
“All my friends and I are against this because it’ll bring undesirable elements into the neighborhood,” Curme said at the event, which was recorded on video. “Just so you know what I mean, there are army vets with PTSD. We don’t want them in our neighborhood. Just give me a break. They can get over it.”
He didn’t stop there.
“The second thing is people with wheelchairs, M.S. or whatever,” Curme said, making a gesture with his hand. “Well the third one is women with breast cancer. They all have that cadaver look and they wear those ridiculous turbans. Newbury Street is a high-end shopping district. We don’t want people like that scaring off our clientele.”
A board member cut him off, saying “We got your message loud and clear.”
Curme told WBZ-TV Thursday his comments were satirical.
“The origin of this is my wife and I went to a neighborhood meeting on the dispensary at the Boston Public Library and the neighbors’ comments just shocked us. They were talking about how their children shouldn’t be seeing undesirable people in the neighborhood. The sentiment was maybe 9-to-1 against the dispensary and I thought to myself, ‘How can these people have so little compassion and what can you do to change their mind?’”
He claims that led him to the satirical piece, “which was just sort of exaggerating the feeling that they must have in their heart if they don’t want to see undesirables like this in their neighborhood, I made it very explicit who would be going to this marijuana dispensary.”
“Certainly the zoning board listened to that and decided that that sort of people who are against vets and cancer patients shouldn’t be listened to. So I think I took perhaps a little bit of the wind out of their sails,” he said.
Curme insists the words were not his true feelings.
“It was clearly satire. But on the other hand, people who oppose a medical marijuana facility have to realize those are the people who will be hurt. They’re opposing vets, they’re opposing people in wheelchairs, they’re opposing people with cancer. So you can’t just blankly say, ‘Well we don’t like those undesirable people in our neighborhood,’ without making it explicit and I made it explicit.”
Larry DiCara, a lawyer for Nixon Peabody, represents the Neighborhood Association, which opposes the dispensary.
DiCara told WBZ Curme’s comments were so extreme that someone he spoke to at the meeting questioned if Curme was a paid actor.
The video of Curme’s statement went viral.
“I’m a little shocked that it went national,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand, I’m pleased that this discussion has been brought up to the fore, because you know the vote in Massachusetts for marijuana (legalization) was not overwhelming and there are still a lot of people who are against it. So I think that it’s good that now this discussion is out there so people can realize that maybe there are some good uses for marijuana, maybe there are some people that really need it.”
Curmie was asked if his attempt at satire has been taken out of context.
“If I had been able to say my full remarks. I think it would have been more clear that it had a satirical meaning and I got cut off. But I think the point was made, nevertheless, perhaps at my expense,” he said.
Curmie said he’s “thrilled” the proposed dispensary was approved.