Marijuana Vote in Belmont on Tuesday

There will be an election in Belmont on Tuesday, September 25.  On the ballot will be a single question.  A yes vote will approve a new town Bylaw limiting the number of retail marijuana establishments in Belmont and prohibiting testing, manufacturing and cultivation facilities in Belmont.

The League of Women Voter has done a couple of nice write-ups about it.

See also this video of the LWV forum.

My personal intention is to vote no on the question for three reasons:

  • I can understand why people don’t want too many retail establishments, but Belmont is not a priority location for retail marijuana establishments — not a lot of street traffic; not a lot of 20-somethings.  So, the limit on the number of retail establishments is not likely to have any impact.
  • I am at a loss as to why we would want to prohibit testing or manufacturing businesses — these are not likely to have any impact on the town and we are just turning away tax base.
  • Finally, I am generally supportive of a safer, better-regulated marketplace for marijuana, so I’m not eager to impose additional restrictions.  The state regulatory scheme is very strong.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

19 replies on “Marijuana Vote in Belmont on Tuesday”

  1. Thank you, Will, for saying you are voting no. I am voting no, too. We in Belmont have accepted liquor stores, bars and even a distillery on Brighton St. Still trying to understand why are marijuana establishments seen as so evil.

  2. Will, I completely agree with you. Especially your second bullet point. Why give up the tax revenue on a low impact business? This makes no sense to me.

  3. Will, thank you for your continued support of this regulated industry.

    Though I wrote the amendments to the original total opt-out article which eventually became our ballot question, I do hope that my intent behind these amendments is clear to all. I gave Town Meeting an option besides a total ban, and ensured that no matter the outcome, Belmont would not be banning retail locations.

    I have been asked many times how I am voting because I put forth the amendments – and I want to reiterate that I wholly and enthusiastically support a NO vote.

  4. Thank you for posting all of our LWV information about this ballot question! I might add that most 20-somethings will not be able to buy marijuana in Belmont if we do have any retail stores. The Belmont Board of Health has already passed regulations in March which change the minimum age to buy marijuana in Belmont to 25. LWV research in other states have shown that there is a substantial market for adult-use over 25, just like this market chooses to buy alcohol.

    Additionally, many senior citizens in other states have chosen to try marijuana for medicinal use. They often first buy at retail stores because of the complex steps necessary to get a prescription to allow buying at a medical marijuana dispensary.

  5. I thought I replied hours ago but it never showed up on site, so I’m trying again.

    The other thing to consider is that any retail marijuana store in Belmont will have a minimum age of sale at 25. The Board of Health has already set this into their regulations. So Belmont is even less likely to be selling to 20-somethings.

    However, the LWV research has shown that there is substantial adult market, 25 and up in states where marijuana is legal. Many adults choose to use marijuana recreationally, just like they use alcohol. In addition, once there are legal dispensaries, senior citizens have been found to buy marijuana in retail stores for medicinal use, because they want to try it for certain needs, without going through the many steps necessary for a prescription. So Belmont might attract a store catering to adults who don’t want to go into Cambridge, Somerville or Boston. Something like our Craft Beer or Gourmet Wine shops.

  6. I am a child of the sixties and an emergency department nurse in a Boston hospital. I enthusiastically voted for the bill to legalize marijuana through regulated dispensaries. My thoughts were centered on individuals who need pot for cancer pain, uncontrolled epilepsy, perhaps some undertreated psychological issues. Stupid me, should we not be more alarmed about potential abuse? I then read about large permanent encampments of pot-seeking individuals cropping up around dispensaries in ?Colorado.
    Fast forward we now have the opioid crisis which is flourishing. Those developments along with my daily professional encounter with increasing abuse of all substances has realigned my thinking. I now regret supporting legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts and support containment of the industry, beginning with the restrictions included in the ballot question. We cannot support a growing cadre of zomboid distracted citizens populating out society, enabled by the numbing suffocation of internet technology growth. With children now increasingly unable to interact in a civilized manner, attend to their surroundings, and who are seduced into thinking withdrawal from challenges is a goal, I cannot support any furtherance of pot distribution. I am hoping for a future vote to restrict marijuana to a prescription drug status.

    1. I respect your views very much, Lorraine. I too share concern about increased use. But I’m even more worried about the harms on the other side of the ledger — the illicit market and also all the new synthetics that are being added to illicit marijuana.

  7. Will said:
    ” … but Belmont is not a priority location for retail marijuana establishments — not a lot of street traffic; not a lot of 20-somethings.”


    And yet people are now up in arms about the traffic along Concord Ave, Goden St., Pleasant St., etc. and some want to ban or charge cars for rush hour traffic.

    Few 20 somethings in Belmont Ctr.?

    Been there lately, Will? There are loads of younger people.

  8. It is exactly he concerns raised here that the Board of Health took into consideration when writing the regulations, including setting the purchase age at 25. Will’s and other’s points are spot on – it is about safety of the product and safety of the business. The State’s oversight will be strong, and again the regs allow Belmont to have its own inspections and consequences for violations, including closure. Let me also remind about the two 3% taxes we are legally allowed to charge for all purchases – one to the Town coffers but the other is directly earmarked for anti-drug education and other related actions. A $1 million business (which is atypical retail shop) will generate $30,000 for the Town and $30, 000 for Health Dept programs addressing opioids, drinking, stress, etc, etc.
    Finally – it is going to be on our borders whether we want it or not – so we should have a say in how it is run and benefit from the dollars.
    Will, thank you as always for clarity and transparency on an important topic.

  9. I don’t like marijuana. The Baby Boomers indulged in a product about 10 times less powerful than what is sold or distributed today. A small percentage of our fellow citizens are prone to addiction. We sell alcohol and know that some will become addicted. Do we need more addicted people? More wasted lives?
    Yes, to medical uses, if they work and people need them. But no to recreational marijuana.

  10. I will be voting YES. I will not send the message to the next generation of young people of Belmont that marijuana is a “normal” product as evidenced by the trappings of “normal” industry we are poised to voluntarily invite into our peaceful town. There is solid research that shows individuals are highly influenced by descriptive norms (beliefs about others’ use) and injunctive norms (belief in others’ approval of risky use) that equates to an average of tripling the rates of use than without these norms. We have a social contract with our young people to unmask the fallacies in the fashions of public opinion, not to mention the ulterior motives of its champions on social media and in forums like this one. Marijuana use is not “normal,” the risks for addiction in any individual are not predictable, the long-term health effects are not negligible. That we would invite this wolf in sheep’s clothing into our neighborhoods for tax revenue that equates to a tiny pittance of the total town purse is the heighth of folly. It is truly trading the proverbial birthright for a mess of pottage.

  11. Will, thanks for your comments on this. I also voted against this proposal because I feel that a rigid zoning regulation is not the best way to handle complex decisions like this one. The criteria proposed to determine the number of retail stores seem difficult to justify if not arbitrary.

    Nor do I see any benefit in banning testing labs or other businesses that would bring in revenue for the town.

    While I can understand the concerns of people who are uncomfortable with the use of marijuana, the decision to legalize its use has already been made and the ballot question will not reverse that decision or most of its effects.

    Dr. Alper and you have pointed out that there are already very strong regulatory rules governing the issuing of permits for marijuana businesses. We should rely on those.

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