Opponents of pot plan mobilize ahead of Town Meeting
NORTH ANDOVER — About a hundred people gathered in the North Andover Senior Center on Saturday to hear from residents concerned with proposed commercial marijuana uses in town.
The group that organized the public information session, Citizens for a Drug Free North Andover, presented on the 1.1 million square foot cultivation facility proposed at 1600 Osgood St., and the six articles on the Special Town Meeting warrant for Jan. 30.
“We’re just a group of concerned citizens, we have no corporate backing,” said CJ Gangi, one of the organizers. “We want to organize opposition on a wide scale.”
The first two articles on the Town Meeting warrant will ban all five licenses approved by Massachusetts voters in a 2016 referendum.
North Andover voters rejected the ballot question that legalized marijuana, giving the town the ability to ban retail shops and other marijuana-related businesses in town.
Charles Salisbury said North Andover was unique because other towns that rejected the ballot initiative saw action from their legislative boards to install a ban, and didn’t rely on citizen petitions to do so.
In the Merrimack Valley, Haverhill is the only municipality where voters approved legal weed. Lawrence, Methuen, and Andover voters rejected the referendum. Lawrence and Methuen city councils have established a ban. Andover voters will go to Town Meeting later in the month to vote on a ban.
The Board of Selectmen in North Andover have sponsored Article 3, which is a general bylaw that would prohibit marijuana retailers, on-site consumption of marijuana, marijuana special events, and craft marijuana cultivator cooperatives, but allow cultivation and laboratory uses.
Lynne Rudnicki, a former member of the Planning Board, said Article 3 means the Selectmen support “grow it here, don’t sell it here, not in my backyard.”
Rudnicki said she was wary that the