By Greg Reibman
Often lost in the debate over whether or not adult-use recreational marijuana shops should operate in Newton is the fact that there aren’t very many properties where these stores can exist under the city’s proposed zoning.
Yes, I know zoning deliberations make most people’s heads ache. Mine included. But, if you have not yet dug into this, it’s worth understanding.
The first thing you need to know is that you should not expect to find these adult-only shops in Newton’s village centers. The next thing you should know is that under state law, consuming cannabis inside or in front of one of these stores is a crime.
Unlike liquor stores, which of course exist in our village centers, these shops will have bunker-like exteriors, intense security and state-mandated safeguards. You must show an ID before you’re allowed to enter a secure showroom. You must show it again when you make your purchase.
Now check out the map above. This map shows where these, highly-secure, tightly-regulated adult-use shops could locate under Newton’s proposed draft zoning.
Remember, I said could locate, not will locate.
The map’s blue circles represent buffer zones near schools, all places where marijuana shops are not allowed. That big red circle represents the half mile buffer zone around Garden Remedies, the city’s only current medical facility which just received a special permit to open a recreational store if the proposed ban doesn’t pass (and which, according to police, has had no incidents of any kind during its two years of operation) where a second shop wouldn’t be allowed.
So where can new stores locate?
See those small red, purple, pink and light blue colored areas mostly on the edges of the city? Those represent the only spots where these shops can even apply.
And remember, no shop can locate within a half mile radius of another.
And of course, just because it’s allowed in those limited areas doesn’t mean a retailer will find a storefront with the mandated security parameters to rent there.
So even if Newton voters decide on Nov. 6 to allow these legal, adult-use shops to open here, there won’t be pot shops on every corner.
Newton voters approved legalizing adult-use marijuana in 2016 and the tax revenue benefits to the city are significant. Brookline, Watertown, Waltham, Belmont, Natick, Boston, Cambridge and many other municipalities have already decided to allow adult-use stores in their municipalities.
For specifics on Newton’s proposed zoning – and where these stores could locate -- go here.