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Lynn residents voice loud opposition to three proposed marijuana businesses

LYNN — In a night where three marijuana businesses were up for approval by the City Council, residents packed the Council Chambers to voice their opposition to cannabis on Tuesday. 

The proposal that incurred the most wrath was Diem Cannabis, an Oregon-based company, which is seeking to open a 1,200 square-foot East Lynn recreational marijuana store at 229 Lewis St., also known as 1 Chestnut. 

Following an hour of mainly opposition from residents, the City Council voted to table a vote on the proposal. Diem has already been given the green light by the City Council’s Recreational Cannabis Site Plan Review Committee and was seeking its special permit from the full panel. 

Two other companies received approval for their special permit from the council. They were Essex Apothecary, which plans to open a boutique-style recreational marijuana store at 233 Western Ave. in Ward 1, and Essence Labs, which plans to open a cannabis manufacturing facility at 82-86 Sanderson Ave. 

Essence would be the first of its kind on the East Coast because all of its marijuana-infused edible products would be kosher, according to company representatives.

Concerns from the crowd about the Lewis Street proposal ranged from opposition to marijuana in general, with the largest showing of disapproval coming from the Lynn Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is across the street from the proposed retail shop. 

“As pastor of (the) Hispanic church, I do not support and (the) members do not support any store that wants to sell drugs,” said Ervin Ochoa, the church’s pastor in an audio recording played by a member during the public hearing. 

Other residents who spoke against the business said that they weren’t against marijuana, but were against the proposed location because of a perceived lack of parking and concerns about traffic being exacerbated in an already congested area. 

City Council President Darren Cyr, who represents Ward 3 where the shop would be located, said he agreed with some of the concerns raised on Tuesday. He said he voted against recreational marijuana, but the city voted to legalize it, requiring at least eight retail shops in Lynn. 

He recommended that his colleagues on the panel vote to table because he wasn’t going to put them in a position to vote without further discussion at a later date. 

Chris Mitchem, CEO of Diem Cannabis, said that he thinks the decision to table a vote made sense. As for parking, he said the company has been able to secure a lease agreement and there will be enough spaces. 

“The feedback from the community is very valid,” Mitchem said. “The council’s decision to delay it, to get more information makes 100 percent sense to me. I think we have been for the past year, with the city of Lynn, we’re going to be smiling and cooperative and we’re going to make sure that all the information is provided and communicate openly with integrity.”

If approved, Diem Cannabis would receive the city’s eighth and final required recreational marijuana retail license.

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