, Gloucester, MA

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January 28, 2013

Pot 'dispensaries' shut out of Peabody

PEABODY — There will be no medicinal pot shop in Peabody, providing that a unanimous and final vote by the City Council taken last Thursday withstands any judicial scrutiny.

“I do understand the needs of those suffering from cancer,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said, citing a major selling point of the law passed by voters statewide last November — that it’s intended to provide marijuana to those who say that smoking the drug is essential to easing their pain.

But Bettencourt added that there are plenty of reasons to doubt the positive impact of the measure.

“There are so many questions regarding how it’s going to be implemented and how it’s going to be enforced,” he told the council just before the vote was taken. “I’ve worked very hard over the years to try to teach our young people about the dangers of drugs.”

Marijuana shops in Peabody would undercut that message, he said.

The vote in Peabody becomes the first formal declaration by any North Shore city that it will seek to block any medical marijuana “dispensary” from opening within its boundaries. But Bettencourt also pointed to the fact that seven towns — with Melrose the latest — have beaten Peabody to the punch as far as banning marijuana shops.

“I believe we’re the first city,” Bettencourt said. “I think it would be the right thing to do.”

Neither Gloucester nor any of Cape Ann’s three towns, meanwhile, have taken up any formal discussion of the issue, which stems from state voters’ emphatic November approval of a medical marijuana law calling for up to 35 dispensaries – with at least one and no more than five in each county, including Essex.

Peabody major Bettencourt lamented the sorts of people who have approached the city seeking to open a pot shop, noting that they aren’t doctors or medical professionals.

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