Council Addresses Sale of Recreational Marijuana

Friday, October 6, 2017
By Transcript Staff

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

Winthrop residents may get a chance to vote on a potential ban of recreational marijuana shops, its just a matter of when.

At Tuesday nights meeting of the town council, discussions were held about recreational marijuana. Councillor Nick DelVento proposed a one-year moratorium on pot shops in Winthrop. He thinks that there should be a moratorium on zoning, licensing, permitting or opening a facility in Winthrop until Oct. 2, 2018.

DelVento said a moratorium gives lots of options and doors to a lot of options while regulations in the Commonwealth and locally are being written. In Revere, officials have not completed their work yet and state regulations are due in April 2018.

Town Manager/Police Chief Terence Delehanty said a year is reasonable, the town can’t go much beyond a year.

“We have to start working on whatever strategy will be,” Delehanty said “I think it is the right thing to do. People who are against it have to strategize, and people who are for it have to strategize. The town needs regulations in place.”

Councilor Heather Engman said it was her understanding that the town needs a ballot question.

a moratorium would be a smart approach and deal with the issue. She asked if the moratorium could extend to Dec. 31, 2018.

A moratorium option is approved by the attorney generals office, DelVento said

In the interim, the town has to determine zoning and regulations and oversights for pot shops. Or town officials could vote to ban the shops all together.

Council President candidate Jeff Turco said he urges a referendum question to go before the Winthrop voters.

“It not up to the council,” Turco said.

Council President candidate and School Committee member Ron Vecchia agreed.

“Let’s take it slow,” Vecchia said, adding that there is not enough time to educate the community before Nov. 7.

High School Nurse Meredith Hurley wants to leave the decision to the voters. She noted that before the school prom students get a breathalyzer test, but there is no test for marijuana use.

During the Nov. 2016 vote, the town of Winthrop voted in favor of recreational marijuana.

Resident Todd Sacco wants it to go to a vote but he wants people to look at the issue with an open mind, consider being business friendly and “think outside the box.”

Leann Eruzione,  of CASA, said the community needs to discuss and share information in the community.

“Residents of the community need to have an opportunity to have these conversations,” she said. “We welcome discussions on the issue.”

Board of Health Chairman and Precinct 3 council candidate Nick LoConte stood to support recreational marijuana shops in Winthrop. He said the use of cannabis can actually combat the opioid use.

“Having a shop eliminates black market dealers,” he said “I also wonder how a cannabis store is any more dangerous than  a liquor store. Through proper zoning these would be good businesses. These stores with attract young professionals with disposable income. LoConte further said, “I think  Winthrop needs all the tools to work for economic development.

He noted the up to three percent tax revenue from each sale would also come to the town for police, schools and other areas.

I urge councillors not to rush into a knee jerk referendum.”

Councilor Phil Boncore said there is no rush, since there aren’t a line of people waiting to open shops in Winthrop.

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