Should Peabody ban recreational marijuana businesses?


Ted Bettencourt

Mayor of Peabody

Ted Bettencourt

Although a majority of Massachusetts voters supported the ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana, Peabody voters opposed it by a significant margin (54 percent). As mayor and city officials, it is incumbent upon us to confront this issue in a manner that respects the apprehensions of so many of our fellow citizens. As such, I successfully petitioned the City Council to approve a citywide vote to ban recreational marijuana sales in Peabody.

There are a great many unanswered questions regarding implementation of the new law as well as its effects on public health and safety. This uncertainty led a majority of the state’s police chiefs and every district attorney to strongly oppose legalization.


Many in law enforcement believe legalizing marijuana during the current opioid epidemic is a mistake. They also believe legalization will result in a surge of impaired driving, which they say is difficult to investigate and prosecute without specialized equipment to perform roadside testing.

Faced with the prospect of multiple recreational pot shops springing up in our city, the Board of Health recently voiced its concerns. Chief among them are youth access to marijuana, the normalization of marijuana use, and the safety of marijuana-infused food items such as sodas, cookies, and candy, which could be readily available at retail outlets. They say these products are particularly appealing to adolescents and can be accidentally ingested by young children, resulting in overdoses.

In recent years, Peabody has made great strides in substance abuse education and prevention in our public schools. Through screening and early intervention, we have sought to identify those students most at risk. We offer an array of counseling and other programs to help students make healthy choices. The prospect of legalized recreational marijuana, however, runs counter to these efforts.

The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents strongly opposed the ballot question, suggesting that legalizing marijuana for adults will simply make it easier for kids to access and contribute to the perception that it is safe to use.

Based on the will of a majority of Peabody voters as well as the thoughtful opposition of local law enforcement, public health, and education professionals, I support banning recreational marijuana sales in Peabody.


Daniel Fishman

Beverly resident; political facilitator, Massachusetts Libertarian Party

Daniel Fishman


Peabody is considering banning legal marijuana shops? I am going to give city officials the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s for moral reasons. I doubt the fact that the city is also considering zoning changes that will allow medical marijuana in the city has anything to do with wanting to keep a legal and cheaper alternative to medical marijuana out of the city.

I am surprised, however, that city officials have not considered that legal recreational cannabis stores also can be zoned in a way to benefit the city.

Peabody already has zoning for adult businesses. The idea that the zoning that is suitable for the Golden Banana, the Cabaret Lounge, and AMAZING Intimate Essentials — all on Route 1 — is not sufficient for a private cannabis store seems odd to me.

I personally don’t think there is anything “gentlemanly” about gentlemen’s clubs, but I support people’s right to engage in whatever activity they want. What I am absolutely opposed to is the unfairness of giving one person or business advantage over another.

How can nude bars, which are generally considered seedy and extremely exploitative, be allowed to flourish in Peabody? Medical marijuana stores are currently selling cannabis for around $400 an ounce. The clientele are people who can afford that price. As anyone who has bought expensive prescription medication knows, the prices are cheaper outside of normal channels.

Legal cannabis stores, zoned as adult entertainment, opening up right next door to nude bars, are not going to be morally corruptive. They will not bring about the end of civilization.


What they will do is generate enormous tax revenue for Peabody. In fact, the only people hurt by legal marijuana stores are the people who own medical marijuana stores, which currently don’t exist in Peabody.

How can a medical marijuana store be OK but a legal marijuana store on Route 1 be corruptive?

I would urge Peabody to not meddle in business. If entrepreneurs of legal enterprises want to come to your town, create good-paying jobs, and pay you a ton of taxes, welcome them. Let people know that Peabody is open for business.

Last week’s Argument: Should Massachusetts commit to 100 percent renewable energy?

Yes: 72.73% (24 votes)

No: 27.27% (9 votes)

As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler He can be reached at