Now that medicinal marijuana is legal, or least it will be as of Jan. 1, the next big question is where will the dispensaries go?
Ward 5 City Councilor David Gamache would like to see some reasonable zoning restrictions for such facilities should they set up shop in Peabody.
Gamache asked his colleagues to send the issue into subcommittee to review whether they could create a designated zoning district to limit where such a facility could be located, in the same way the council set aside an adult district on Route 1 for the Golden Bananas of the world.
Gamache decided to take action after reading about a similar effort in Quincy.
“I just want to be proactive,” said Gamache, arguing it would be in the city’s best interest to ensure a facility doesn’t just “pop up on a corner” somewhere with a school or church next door.
Gamache says he actually supports the initiative and voted “yes” on the ballot question.
“What do you want, a drive-through pot shop in Ward 5?” joked At-Large Councilor Michael Garabedian, drawing laughs, as Gamache spoke to reporters after the meeting.
“If it’s better than pumping [patients] full of hundreds of pills, then good,” Gamache said, explaining he takes no issue with that type of medical treatment for pain management. “It’s regulated.”
These medicinal dispensaries will actually be limited to one per county in a designated location or community, and questions still also remain on who will actually operate these facilities.
“It’s not likely to end up in a Boxford, Georgetown or Byfield,” Gamache said, noting that Essex County stretches from the New Hampshire border to south of Peabody. “It’s highly likely that it could end up in Peabody, Salem, Beverly, Danvers or Lynn.”
He said it’s just like methadone clinics – nobody wants one in their backyard. The clinic on Route 1 South, for that matter, did not pass through without a fight.
While right now the law only calls for one facility per county, Gamache believes that could easily change based on the need or demand.
Council President James Liacos noted that in some other states where marijuana is legal, it’s all over the place. Take Boulder, Colo., for example, he said: “Every street corner has a pot shop.”
“San Francisco is very similar,” added Ward 4 Councilor Robert Driscoll.