Mayor: Time Needed for Marijuana, Money Needed for Gangs [VIDEO]
The recreational marijuana industry is coming soon to Massachusetts, but Mayor Jon Mitchell is once again asking for New Bedford to just wait a little longer.
The mayor is again asking the City Council Thursday night to impose a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in New Bedford, because he believes the state is taking too long to announce its regulations, and that the city needs time to adjust accordingly.
"We're running out of time to react to the state," Mitchell said in his weekly appearance on WBSM. "I think we need to hit the 'pause' button, see what the state does, and then we'll come up with our own set of regulations primarily around zoning, so that this new industry, to the extent that it sets up in New Bedford, does so responsibly."
The mayor said that no matter where people stand on the issue of marijuana legalization, there is broad consensus that marijuana retailers shouldn't be near "sensitive" sites such as churches, schools or playgrounds.
Mitchell also said there needs to be restrictions on places with on-site usage, such as "marijuana bars," as well as delivery services.
"Somebody can just call up, like ordering Domino's Pizza, just order up some marijuana edibles," he said. "There should be curbs on that as well."
The mayor noted many other cities and towns have opted for moratoriums while trying to figure out how to best work with the state's forthcoming regulations. Mitchell's previously proposed six-month moratorium was voted down by both the City Council and its Committee on Ordinances last year.
He says he expects it to once again be "kicked" to the Ordinance Committee this time around as well.
Also, earlier this week, it was announced that New Bedford has been awarded a state grant of $330,654 to help fund anti-gang programming. The Shannon Community Safety Initiative Grant is just about $50,000 dollars less than the city received last year, and about $165,000 less than in 2016.
"I don't know why it's shrinking, but it's not good," Mitchell said. "We think it's a program that's useful and largely successful, so less money means diminished capacity to carry out that mission, that part of policing in New Bedford."
Mitchell said the grant money goes toward paid positions that work directly with youth and gang members in the community. He said it has been especially useful in diffusing and resolving conflicts among gang members, keeping tensions from escalating and gangs from retaliating when something does happen.