3-pronged approach to pot in Peabody

April 18, 2017

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY — Last November’s vote to legalize recreational marijuana in the state has created a haze for state and local legislators.

As the state legislature works through the details of the legalization process, the Peabody City Council is taking a three-pronged approach to pot sales in the city. Thursday night, the council’s legal affairs committee is slated to discuss proposed language for a zoning amendment that would place a moratorium on recreational pot sales in the city until June 30, 2018.

“We have to make sure that the decisions we make will be legal,” said Joel Saslaw, the council president. If the moratorium goes into effect, Saslaw said it will give the council time to see how other legalization efforts play out on the state and local levels.

In addition to the moratorium, the council is also moving forward with the establishment of a medical marijuana sales zone along Route 1 and a ballot referendum seeking the outright prohibition of recreational marijuana sales.

The council is meeting with the Planning Board in May to discuss the zoning change allowing for the medical marijuana sale. Currently, medical marijuana sales are prohibited in Peabody.

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Saslaw said he is open to the medical marijuana sales if it brings in revenue for the city and if it does not affect the ability to ban pot sales if voters approve the ballot measure in November.

“I think that there are still a lot of unanswered questions,” said Saslaw. “If we do have to have medical marijuana, we need to have it in the right zone so it’s not across the street from a school or a playground. If we’re going to accept the fact that we need to have it here by law, it’s the smart move to put it in its proper place.”

Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. said he has come around to seeing the value of medical marijuana for those in need, but that he is still a staunch opponent to allowing recreational sales in the city.

The council’s legal affairs committee meets at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.