Votes that favor existing marijuana businesses in Milford, Newton raise equity concerns
Milford residents voted to ban new recreational marijuana stores because “we don’t want pot shops on the corners of our streets,” said selectman Michael Walsh.
But, Walsh said, two existing marijuana businesses — ProVerde Laboratories, which tests marijuana, and Sira Naturals, which grows marijuana — have been “outstanding” for the community.
Milford voters recently voted to ban new recreational marijuana businesses from the town, while allowing ProVerde Laboratories and Sira Naturals to remain. Sira Naturals is taking steps toward applying for a license to grow marijuana for recreational use in addition to medical use.
Milford is not the only town to allow existing marijuana businesses while putting a ban or moratorium on others. The practice is allowed under the state’s marijuana laws — but it may also prove controversial.
Kamani Jefferson, president of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, said he is worried about issues of equity, since bans like Milford’s will prevent new businesses from competing with established dispensaries.
“Dispensaries can lobby towns to say no new businesses other than the people who already spent millions of dollars,” Jefferson said.
Milford had multiple votes — first banning all marijuana businesses, then agreeing to make an exception for the two businesses that are already open. Milford will not have any retail marijuana shops, but only the growing and testing facilities.
The two companies had argued that they are already creating jobs and operating without incident in Milford. Company officials said they would have to relocate in order to remain competitive if the town banned them from doing business with the recreational marijuana industry.
In Newton, the city is already home to one operating medical marijuana dispensary, Garden Remedies. The city council there voted to put in place a moratorium on new marijuana businesses through the end of the year. But city officials will allow Garden Remedies to apply