Adult-Use Marijuana Facility Proposed in Brighton

Original Request for Feedback, December 13, 2018

Natural Selections is seeking to site an adult-use cannabis retail shop at 345 Washington Street in Brighton Center. To view the company’s PowerPoint proposal, click here

Senator Brownsberger is eager to receive feedback from Brighton residents, including questions and concerns. Please comment below to share your thoughts. 

Statement from Will, January 3, 2019

Thanks to all who have weighed in. Most people responded in the week after I posted the question. I took the holidays before posting a response.

I have carefully read all of the comments that were posted here and all of the email conversations that my post generated. I am grateful for the very diverse perspectives that I received.

I voted for and actively supported legalization for the following basic reasons:

  • I want to end the illicit market in marijuana which tempts young men into crime by offering the prospect of quick money.
  • I want to reduce the high incarceration of young men in communities of poverty.
  • I want to reduce the harms associated with the dangerous synthetic opioids and other chemicals that are being added into marijuana, cocaine and heroin. To that end, I want people who use marijuana to have access to a regulated, clean, accurately labelled product.

I respect that some believe that these hoped-for benefits of legalization are outweighed by risks that people will use marijuana more, harm themselves and more frequently drive intoxicated.

While choosing to legalize marijuana, we have put in place a strong state-level regulatory framework that is designed to minimize the risks associated with legalization. For example, state law allows the state to deny licenses within 500 feet of a school.

The goals of legalization will not be achieved if we do not open marijuana outlets widely in Massachusetts — we need to make it easier to get legal marijuana than it already is to get illegal marijuana.

Because I strongly support the goals of legalization and because I believe that the state regulatory framework strongly protects the public, I will always support the opening of any marijuana retail facility in any location that complies with with state laws and regulations and is permittable under local zoning regulations.

I am respectful of the concerns that some have raised about this particular location. The most commonly expressed concerns were about traffic and parking. It is indeed fair to say that Brighton Center is highly congested.

I strongly urge the City, in negotiating a host agreement with this facility, to give very careful attention to the issue of parking and more broadly to the issue of street traffic. Although the facility may be more than 500 feet from any school, there are many schools nearby and students should not have to push through lines of people waiting outside the facility. The City should should insist that sales be by appointment and that volume be carefully controlled. This is especially important during our current transition period where demand greatly exceeds legal supply. I believe that once we get through the transition and there is an adequate network of facilities across the state, the need for these controls will diminish.

Thanks again to all who have provided me input to help me shape my thoughts about this facility.

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38 Comments

  1. While I understand the arguments for legalization, I worry about how the presence of such shops will alter how the other businesses nearby may be affected. I have loved to go to Hallowell ME when on vacation. The presence of a marijuana shop seems to be contributing to a shift on the Main Street. A craft shop has been replaced by a head shop. A favorite book store is gone. There is a gun store that has also moved into the street. Brighton Main Streets should weigh in about how this may affect current tenants. We have seen a transformation over the past few years clearly focused on the millenials. So it is important to ask what the impact of such a shop will be.

  2. Thanks Will for soliciting feedback. I too support the new recreational marijuana law and would want to see a stir in Brighton. But the location seems too dense and lacks the parking area that would be needed to support it. That area of Washington Street has many businesses, bars and restaurants with no parking already. Keep it in Brighton but in an more quasi- industrial area off the Main Street.

  3. Although I supported this as a parent at the Winship school which is very near to the proposed located I do not feel comfortable with this proposal. I also agree it is a very congested area with very little parking and there are many children and parents commuting and parking regularly in this area. I think it would be safer in a location with more adults and vigilance such as near a university like BC or the Harvard business school, perhaps Western Ave. Another option might be in an area where there is more public transportation like near Commonwealth Ave. and Harvard street.

  4. Marijuana dispensaries ought to be treated like any other legal retail establishment. Wine stores might be a good analogy.

  5. As a Brighton resident and parent of young children who frequents this area I have no concerns about this location. I am always grateful for better utilization of space in our neighborhood and I appreciate that this proposal looks to use an unused basement space of the existing building. I feel that the security and safety concerns about Adult use Cannabis are not reflective of the reality of with the use of the substance or the extensive regulations that are demanded by the CCC.

    They are listed here going to the details with regard to transportation, physical security and advertising: https://www.mpp.org/states/massachusetts/massachusetts-adult-use-marijuana-regulation-law/

    While traffic congestion and parking in Brighton Center is always a concern, this location will have both its own parking lot and a city lot adjacent to that as well as being at the intersection of two cross cutting bus routes. Further long term the utilization of this business will not lead to the issues currently seen the newly opened Adult User businesses because currently the existing facilities are serving extreme pent up demand for the whole state. Once the market is allowed to grow with demand the the congestion issues will be no more problematic than they are for the similar existing businesses such as the two Liqueur Stores in the same block.

    I have some mixed feelings with regard to the the ownership group of this particular facility. I know that there is a limitation on number of businesses that can be opened in a particular area, and it would be preferable that the ownership group represent and reflect the local area. This group is from out of state. However, this group does have experience running this type of business in other states which could speak to there ability operate the facility at its best capacity.

    I am aware of two other proposals for the Brighton area, One for the current MaryAne’s space in Cleveland Circle and the former Papa Gino’s space on North Beacon. I support new businesses opening in our neighborhood, especially in currently vacant or unused locations. My understanding of the laws is that not all of these would be able to open, so there is a level of discussion of which of these locations are best, but I support this location as well as the other two.

  6. As a local resident, and parent of a BPS 6th grader, I support this proposal. This is a prime location for retail.

    1. How does being a parent of a BPS 6th grader factor into this? Does the kid watch his mother smoke weed, and is exposed to second-hand smoke?

  7. Strongly opposed to this business opening in the most congested area of my very small lifelong hometown of Brighton, after seeing the awful traffic and crowds at the most recent dispensaries that opened I think this is just a terrible idea for this small very busy community. Furthermore with the heavy foot traffic in the afternoon/evening with public transportation commuters, restaurant patrons and local kids that frequent the area I think it’s just not a good fit. As someone that strongly believes the benefits that the cannabis plant can offer I think that there are much better locations that could house a store that sold recreational use of the plant.

  8. Hello, I live in Brighton Center, across from Jims Deli, so just across the intersection from where this development is proposed. I must advocate for this facility to be located elsewhere. Brighton Center is already clogged with traffic, it often takes multiple light cycles to get through the intersection. Parking is less than abundant, and I am hard pressed to believe the rear parking currently available at 345 will be sufficient. I realize these are similar comments to the many others you will probably receive, but I truly do believe it. I use marijuana, and would love a convenient location to legally obtain it, and so having it across the street seems delightful. Unfortunately, I realize I will be far from the only one patronizing the store, and so when I think of all the crowding currently occuring, to add in a dispensary, right in the center of Brighton Center, I do feel that is misguided. I commute to work daily on the 57 and 86 buses, which are both incredibly crowded and slow. Bus bunching abounds, and will only get worse with this development. Simply, I would love a dispensary in Brighton, but removed from the hub of Brighton I think would be best for all.

  9. Very much in favor of this proposal. It will obviously be a very successful business due to high demand. I would be one of the first patrons. It is worth noting that lines and wait times will diminish the longer the store is open and the more stores that are open in the area. Opponents of the stores are using traffic as an excuse because they are afraid of “those people” coming into their neighborhood. They fail to acknowledge that we live in a major city and this location is 5 miles away from downtown. This isn’t some quiet backstreet in Iowa.

    Security will of course be very tight and the store has everything to lose by allowing people to smoke in public near their store or to somehow smuggle cannabis to minors. Anyone who says otherwise is fearmongering and in denial about the fact that cannabis is already widely available in Brighton through illegal means. We already have two liquor stores in the immediate vicinity of this location and they are not ruining kids’ lives or the “family environment.” This store would be no different.

  10. Senator,
    Please do not vote in favor of this facility. It is very close to a heavy concentration of families in Brighton who do not want their children exposed to marijuana. I am sure there are many fine places to open this facility that doesn’t strongly impose on an established local community of families.
    With thanks,
    Ben

    1. My house is less than a quarter mile from the proposed location and I have three kids still living at home, and I do not object to this proposal.

      I don’t believe in NIMBY.

      If your kids are using pot, then the pot store isn’t the problem.

  11. I support this proposal. Marijuana dispensaries ought to be treated like any other legal retail establishment.

  12. I am in full support of this business opening in the area. As a resident of several years in Brighton, I am excited that will of the people and the free market are bringing recreational cannabis closer to where I can easily purchase it like I can tobacco, beer, wine and liquor.

  13. This group appeared before the BAIA and was opposed. There were several concerns about the location. The basement would not be easily accessible to people who are handicapped and the parking and traffic conditions would not easily ac.comodate this business.. An alternative location should be sought

  14. I strongly oppose this location. The Allston-Brighton area already has a number of businesses and establishments that are oriented to alcohol use. If a neighborhood has a disproportionate number of establishments that promote alcohol and drug use (even if legal), then that neighborhood can suffer from the results of possible substance abuse. Other types of retail or services should be provided instead. We don’t want Allston-Brighton to become–or further cement its reputation as–the go-to destination for alcohol and marijuana use.

  15. I have several concerns. I believe that the location of this cannabis shop will be creating serious neighborhood parking issues. I worry about the shop & restaurant owners who now feel there is not enough parking for their businesses. I believe if you are disabled won’t be able to exit the building’s basement safely in an emergency. I know a cannabis shop can not open near a school. I wonder does it matter that there is a daycare across the street from this possible new store? Right now the door leading to this new basement facility is off a dark alley way. Please make sure that purchasers and neighbors will be safe when it is dark outside. I believe the police are not in favor of this location. Am I correct? Is there a way of testing for marijuana when it might be partially responsible for causing an accident? (I don’t mean just a car accident, but any kind of on the job accident.) After all these concerns, I am relieved that using marijuana in its various forms is legal.
    BOTTOM LINE – WE NEED HELP AND PROTECT THE STORES AND RESTAURANTS ON WASHINGTON STREET

    1. Do you support the location at Cleveland Circle? Better public transit there so parking less of an issue.

    2. First of all, there’s plenty of parking in the back and in the area. Second I’m a bit confused by your statement of protecting restaurants on Washington st. The only thing the dispensary can do is create more business for all the restaurants there. There are a few bars on that street and no retaurant has ever complained about the business they brought.

  16. As was mentioned this is a very regulated industry and there are already protections in place regarding distance to schools and concentrations of stores. Fear mongering and NIMBYism should not stop A/B from getting the legal number of stores.

  17. Hello Senator B,
    Thanks for consulting your constituents, on this issue and many others. I want simply to register my support for the proposed Marijuana dispensary. The ballot issue passed by a significant majority. The legislature has been carefully considering–or dragging its feet on–implementation. It’s time to enact the law. Brighton Center is a hub, a sensible sort of location–as its many bars and pubs attest. Let’s do it already.

  18. I think this could be a good fit in Brighton Center. Depending on when it gets built it will be a destination and it might increase business for stores and restaurants on Washington street.

    If folks are concerned about traffic maybe we need to focus on putting in a dedicated bus-lane instead of excluding retail from a downtown area.

  19. A majority of voters made the decision to legalize marijuana. Somehow alcohol — bars, liquor stores, etc. — are all fine but marijuana is not? This proposal should be supported.

  20. I’m not really sure what the argument is about here. A dispensary will only bring more business to the area all we have to do is take a look at the kind of business a dispensary is doing in Brookline on the busiest street there. There has been zero crime and only profit for the town. In terms of parking there should really be no problem.

  21. Senator Brownsberger

    I support this proposed location in the neighborhood shopping district of Brighton center. The former Egyptian bowling alley and the Brighton billiards club operated for many years at the proposed location, the location has a private parking lot with 22 spaces, that abuts a 55 space municipal lot. This location is a hop, skip and jump away from the D-14 Police station. It seems that this facility will lead to the degeneration of the black market, which does have the most affect on the youth of our community. This plan reduces a commercial vacancy, supports existing business by increasing foot traffic along Washington street, and makes Brighton Center a strong center that offers another amenity and service appealing to the neighborhoods diverse population from the seniors, to students and everyone in between, and is also located in a 72% to 87% percentage Yes vote by precinct on question 4 from 11/16.

    Per the study of urban development in Brighton conducted in 2015 by MIT, which stated goal was to promote and enhance health and wellness to build Brighton’s existing benefits in having anchor institutions with related missions such as the Oak Square YMCA, New Balance, and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, to tie together the business district from the end to end in a meaningful way for residents and businesses, this location seems appropriately discreet, and in what would be a secure facility while also located plain sight, should be considered a benefit with regards to street presence. I believe most feel the addition of this type of industry will be net positive for the main street businesses of Brighton and the community at large.

  22. Dear Will,

    As a former director of Alston/Brighton Against Drugs I am completely opposed to a cannabis shop anywhere in our neighborhood, especially in Brighton Center, which is so near how many, three, four, Boston Public Schools…? I know from first-hand experience how damaging pot can be for young adults, specifically teen-aged boys, and it is wishful thinking to imagine teens won’t have access to the facility. Please oppose this location.

    yours,
    Deborah Valianti

  23. I’m not opposed to having a retail cannabis shop in Brighton, but I do have serious concerns about having it in that location; I don’t think the parking is adequate for the business, and Washington St already has high-density traffic congestion much of the day.

  24. Based on the feedback on news radio from other towns where cannabis shops opened, the traffic was far greater than originally expected. One place even using a shuttle bus from a nearby parking lot. Choosing another location would be best. Not to forget to mention there are only so many ways in and out of Brighton. Also, with the new luxury apartment buildings going up near North Beacon Street and Western Ave further down Market Street, traffic will be steadily increasing with commuters and new tenants. Getting through Brighton Center in either direction will become a nightmare.

  25. This is a no brained – it’ll take sale of the product off the streets, bring neighboring business’ additional foot traffic and activate a long unoccupied commercial space.

    The former pool hall is an ideal location for this type of business model both in form factor and in proximity to other relevant business’. The liquor store across the street has been in business for decades selling a controlled substance responsibly – this should be treated no differently.

  26. I’ve lived in Brighton for almost 8 years. I have also worked in this exact neighborhood for almost just as long. There are a lot of businesses that have left the Brighton area for other growing neighborhoods. We have lost 3 to 4 liquor establishments of which sold off their licenses to areas like the Seaport. Brighton is a very diverse neighborhood with an eclectic mix of residents both old and young, foreign and local. A shop like this will help bring Brighton into the new millennium.

    The Marijuana movement is one of the largest opportunities to help grow and support local town tax revenues in a time where they need it the most. The reality is the voters asked and passed these regulations. So how can we continue to deny what the people want? There are many many vacant buildings in the area and this location has sat vacant for way too long. I think this is the perfect business for the location as it fills a long voided space of which is also hidden in the basement so to all those who are against the “look and feel” of a pot shop this should help quell those so called fears. NETA which is in the old bank in Brookline does amazing business and I see no traffic congestion in that area. The stories you are hearing about traffic in the other towns is for a multitude of reasons. A) They were one of the 1st shops to open and there was a mad rush of people (pent up demand which again you see why your voters chose this). B) Its in a rural town where most people drive and do not have public transportation and or are within walking distance like a city.

    This location has plenty of parking both at the building and next to the parking lot which is a city owned lot.

    I see no reason to oppose this location and or opportunity to support the neighborhood and improve the area for the long term. There is an aging community in Brighton and having a facility like this in the area next to a hospital would be huge for those needing medical marijuana. The elderly would have a location right in their own neighborhood, the building from their plans submitted will have updated accessibility for handicap etc. A marijuana shop will also serve the younger generation in the area bringing back some of the necessary items to the area that will keep them in the neighborhood continuing to let it grow. Too many business have closed and left the area leaving it with very few options to retain the young talent that has made up the core of Brighton. Give the people what they want!

    I support this plan and hope it gets accepted!

  27. As an area resident and home owner, I strongly support this shop. I’d also like to see the tax revenue used for neighborhood improvements to the allston-brighton area (rodent control, new sidewalks/roads, crosswalks, tree canopy).

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