The latest cannabis news out of Massachusetts is that Mayor Walsh of Boston just approved recreational marijuana dispensaries within business districts in the heart of Boston where the greatest amount of foot traffic occurs. The Boston Zoning Commission approved the zoning measure 8-1 that will allow cultivation and dispensing of marijuana in all of the city’s main districts. Considering the moratorium on adult-use cannabis in many cities and towns in Massachusetts, approval of dispensaries in the heart of Boston is a significant move by the city’s mayor who was also strongly opposed to the measure that legalized cannabis in Massachusetts in 2016.
Boston is one of, if not the most, historic and classically designed cities in the country. During the spring and summer, people from around the state will come to the city to relax on the Boston Common, find delicacies at Faneiul Hall, attend concerts at the Half Shell, listen to some of the world’s greatest musicians at the BSO and go to one of the two most famous baseball stadiums in the country, Fenway Park. To think there will now be adult-use recreational cannabis dispensaries spread out evenly through these areas of the city is the sort of weed news marijuana advocates in Massachusetts could never have imagined ten years ago.
Zoning only requires that dispensaries are spread out through the city so that they do not cluster together and create something like a marijuana district. Massachusetts recreational marijuana sales begin this July, however according to Kamani Jefferson of the Mass Rec Council, it is unlikely that any more than about five dispensaries will have officially been opened and ready for cannabis sales on the kickoff date. Regardless, the sale of adult-use marijuana in Massachusetts is likely to be a real financial boon to the state. For the time being it will be the only state in the entire northeast with a structured recreational marijuana market. People from across the region could flock to Massachusetts this summer to checkout the marijuana and in particular they are likely to visit Boston.
While may other towns and cities are stubbornly banning marijuana sales within their city limits, on the other side of the state from Boston is a city called Northampton. It also is an old city setup in a European style located next to the five college area that includes the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College. Students in the area already regularly visit the city for its food and nightlife. Northampton is also embracing the recreational marijuana market and will likely be the destination for marijuana advocates in Connecticut, upstate New York and Vermont.
Marijuana legalization is likely to change the dynamic of Massachusetts and Boston as it may draw in much more tourism. One issue that is likely to arise is a place for cannabis enthusiast to actually smoke, vape or eat the legal marijuana. Massachusetts had originally approved the creation of social consumption lounges, however it has now put a hold on them until the legislature can decide how best to move forward with public consumption in 2019.