Recreational cannabis is slated to be fully legalized in Massachusetts this coming July. With that in mind, some Massachusetts border towns are looking to sell marijuana to visitors from Rhode Island.
The small, southeastern city of Attleboro, for example, is trying to get new recreational cannabis stores operating as soon as possible, with plans to licensee at least five shops to capitalize on that cross-border traffic.
'I don’t have an upper limit as to how many [stores] would be a problem.... We want the revenues. Very simple. It’s all about the revenues,' Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux told Providence Journal. 'The will of the people said they want this here in Massachusetts and here in Attleboro. So okay, fine, if that’s what the citizens want, that’s what they can have. I’m not going to stand in the way of that.'
While Heroux wants to move ahead quickly, not everyone is on board.
Attleboro council's zoning committee chairperson Todd Kobus warns that the city could risk doing too much too soon.
"If we just open the floodgates, it’s difficult to close that once we let people run rampant," he said.
Meanwhile, Attleboro Police Chief Kyle P. Heagney thinks opening any marijuana shops is a bad idea.
"It’s bad social policy," he said. "Marijuana is a very dangerous drug. More people are probably killed because of its profitability than any other."
Chief Heagney wants to see strict zoning regulations go into place that would concentrate cannabis stores in a single area - a move that city council doesn't seem to be keen on.
But Mayor Heroux isn't concerned about all this backlash. He thinks the worst thing that will come out of the legal pot shops is "you’re going to get more trips to the pizza store." And he thinks the tax revenues from legalized and regulated marijuana sales will easily offset any downsides surrounding the new industry.
“The city of Attleboro voted 57 percent in favor of it [in 2016], and so considering that we need the revenues to come from somewhere to help pay for police, fire, schools and all the other city departments, this is a new revenue source.”