The city of Lowell, Massachusetts is making zoning restrictions to help control where medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to operate. Unlike other towns in Massachusetts, Lowell is not looking to completely ban collectives, but they want to control where they open in order to ensure they are received well by community members.
Assistant City Manager Adam Baacke explained that the intent is to keep dispensaries from over-saturating one area of the city and to keep them away from residential areas, schools, and public libraries.
The new zoning amendment could be finished as soon as this week. It is being drafted with contributions from the city’s law, planning, health, and police departments. Once completed, the amendment will be reviewed by the Planning Board and City Council, who must both approve it in order for it to take effect.
Similar restrictions on where collectives can be located are being established in Boston, Framingham, and Quincy. Cities such as Reading and Wakefield have already moved to completely ban collectives.
Officials from other cities are not so concerned. Only 35 dispensaries will be able to open throughout the state, and there are over ten times as many communities that they could potentially choose to set up shop.
Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella does not think his community of just over 40,000 residents will be a target for someone wanting to open a dispensary. “How many can there be?” he asked. “Is there going to be one on every corner? I just think enough of the bigger areas will have them, the bigger cities.”
Tewksbury selectman Douglas Sears has expressed that he thinks the city would be a good place to open a dispensary. He has recommended opening one in the city’s hospital. He explained, “It has a pharmacy. It’s already run by the state. And it has the safeguards of its own campus police, plus we have the Tewksbury police. The state is already heavily involved in the administration of controlled substances at that location.”