By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
The Everett City Council moved quickly Monday night to refer to the Planning Board a new zoning ordinance, which if adopted, would effectively ban the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes in the city of Everett.
A second piece, which would also ban the shops in city ordinances, was held over to the next Council meeting – September 25 – so that councilors could be provided a copy of the ordinance for their review.
Both changes to local zoning and ordinances were initiated by Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his administration, in keeping with provisions of the recently passed state law allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use through retail establishments.
In a letter to the City Council, and re-printed in today’s Independent, the mayor outlined his reasons for recommending the ban on local so-called “pot shops,” calling the ban “consistent with the will of local voters” in Everett.
“The proposed municipal ban will not prohibit residents from possessing or cultivating recreational marijuana in accordance with the state law, nor will it apply to registered medical marijuana dispensaries,” read the letter. “Rather, its sole purpose is to disallow the opening of recreational “pot shops” in our city. I introduce this proposal tonight for simple reasons. A majority of Everett voters did not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Every day, we are still confronting issues of young people misusing drugs or alcohol, and I am concerned about the risk of diversion if recreational marijuana is sold commercially in our community.”
In last year’s State Election, voters in Everett came out against the ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana usage in Massachusetts.
Under the state law that was approved by the Massachusetts Legislature and signed by Governor Charles Baker earlier this summer, any community whose electorate voted against the ballot question initiative on recreational marijuana, is allowed to ban the establishment of recreational marijuana stores within their city limits, through their normal zoning and ordinances processes.
Since Everett voters voted against the measure, even though the question passed statewide, the City of Everett is allowed to ban marijuana shops within the city, as long as they do so within a prescribed deadline.
Thus, the Mayor referred two separate orders to the Council, which would ban marijuana retail establishments in local zoning and in city ordinances. The zoning amendment must have a public hearing of the Planning Board, before the Council can follow with a public hearing of its own, and a final vote to ban the shops in local zoning.
The ordinance amendment will need a public hearing before the Council’s Rules and Ordinances Committee before it can be passed. However, since the councilors had not been provided a copy of the revised ordinance, they will take it up at their next meeting in on September 25, when they will likely refer it to Rules and Ordinances.