Although recreational marijuana has been legal in Massachusetts since voters approved it in 2016, the pot industry has experienced some serious pushback against dispensaries at the local level.
More than 90 municipalities in the state have opted out or prohibited commercial cannabis establishments.
The development is the result of a grassroots effort coordinated by local churches partnering with the Massachusetts Family Institute, a group affiliated with Family Policy Alliance and Focus on the Family.
One such church is the Lynn Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located in Lynn, Massachusetts, a city about 10 miles northeast of Boston.
When the congregation received word that the City Council was voting to give the city’s final marijuana permit to Oregon-based Diem Cannabis for a dispensary directly across the street from their church, they took action.
“We as a church are against this business, because it brings more violence, crime, and addiction to the area, and the pot shop they want to bring in would be 30 feet from our building,” Pastor Ervin Ochoa said. “We don’t want a business selling pot, because we already have a problem with drugs in our community.”
Ochoa said the community was not informed of the Feb. 11 meeting of the City Council. When word got out that the church’s new neighbor would be a pot shop, nearly 200 concerned residents and church members descended on City Hall.
Although council representatives said the permit could not be revoked, Ochoa said he and other community leaders will discuss the issue further with the city’s mayor.
“We are just asking that they relocate, not leave all together,” Ochoa said. “When you make a vote like this, you need to let the neighborhood know.”
That follows a wider pattern of minority communities that oppose marijuana in their neighborhoods. In Lawrence, a city about