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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.

Bob Croce November 27, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I’m really big on having our government do the will of the people, and state residents did just overwhelmingly vote to allow for these new "pot shops". But that also doesn't mean we need them here in Peabody, where we’re trying to rebuild our reputation, property values, and our commercial tax base. I think the mayor is right to "just say no." If you want even more perspective, check it out here: http://bit.ly/ToIOz0
Patriots Fan November 27, 2012 at 06:39 PM
This vote passed by an overwhelming 66%. Mayor Bettencourt is not only out of touch with the voters, he is passing up revenue that will go to other cities and towns. What a joke, politicians like Bettencourt are only delaying the inevitable, marijuana is way less dangerous than drinking and it isn't even a close comparison. I am glad to see that our Mayor is spending his time on very important issues (sarcasm).
deee November 28, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Why don't you ban the Methadone Clinic on route one. They are all abusing the system to get a free high. Instead you want to deny the pot clinic for the ones that are truly sick and in need. Were are your priorities? You would feel different if you knew someone that was sick and in need.

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