Mayor Wants to Ban Pot Shops From Peabody
Bettencourt says new law is too vague. City is among several communities in Massachusetts now seeking bans on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt says he wants to make Peabody off-limits to medical marijuana dispensaries.
In an interview with the Salem News, Bettencourt argued that the law passed by voters earlier this month is too vague and said he will ask the City Council Tuesday to ban the operations of medical marijuana treatment shops in the city.
That's despite Peabody voters coming out in favor of the ballot question by a significant margin on Election Day -- 14,363 votes to 11,091.
The council's Legal Affairs Committee is slated to discuss the issue Tuesday (6:45 p.m.) after Ward 5 City Councilor David Gamache asked his colleagues earlier this month to consider restricting where such facilities could be located in the city, similar to only allowing adult businesses along Route 1.
He believes Peabody or neighboring cities will be likely sites for the state-sanctioned facilities rather than the more rural towns in Essex County.
Gamache said that while he personally supported the new law, he did not want to see shops just "pop up" on street corners in the city without regard, for instance, to the proximity to schools or churches.
Gamache also believes the one facility per county limit in the law could likely change if lawmakers were convinced there was sufficient demand.
Bettencourt said he voted against the law, also noting Police Chief Robert Champagne, the Board of Health and the Healthy Peabody Collaborative all opposed the law as well. District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett has also routinely opposed such laws.
Bettencourt, who is also an attorney, said he and city solicitor Michael Smerczynski believe there is some precedent to seek the ban. Wakefield and Reading have both accomplished that and city officials in Melrose are also talking about taking similar action.
Town Meeting in both Wakefield and Reading approved bylaws banning dispensaries two weeks ago. Zoning amendments have also been proposed in Salem, Woburn and Malden.
Bettencourt's concerns span from the lack of an imposed age limit on marijuana use to more general implementation of the law and apparent uncertainty on how all its regulations are going to work.