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Ordinance Committee Votes Down Mayor’s Moratorium on Recreational Marijuana


Steve Martins

The New Bedford City Council’s Committee on Ordinances voted down a proposal by Mayor Jon Mitchell Wednesay night to impose a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales in the city until September 30th, 2018.

Ordinances Committee Chairman Steve Martins told WBSM’s Brian Thomas that the committee had some specific concerns about the proposed moratorium, the biggest of which was going against against the will of the people who voted to approve recreational marijuana in Massachusetts.

“Thirty-six percent of the precincts in New Bedford voted yes, and to put some kind of moratorium on this until 17 months later is really going against the voters,” Martins said. “And shame on an elected official for stepping forward and trying to create something like this, when the voters spoke out in favor.”

Martins said although the ordinance didn’t pass in committee, it will still get referred to the full City Council for a vote, as is procedure.

“It could somehow come alive or whatever the case may be, but there was some strong opposition to it last night that makes me believe this is not going to move forward,” he said.

The moratorium would be in effect until September 30, 2018, or until the city can adopt a zoning bylaw amendment for the regulation of recreational marijuana sales. Martins says he believes the moratorium is unnecessary because a Special Committee on Zoning and Cannabis has already been formed, and that the City Council shouldn’t stand in the way of something the voters of New Bedford have already approved.

Martins said the committee was also concerned about what this would mean for economic development in the city, as New Bedford would miss out on tax revenue and jobs while surrounding communities took advantage of recreational marijuana sales. Another concern was that other communities who have tried similar moratoriums have been warned by State Attorney General that it would cost significant taxpayer dollars to go against something that has already been approved by voters.

“I’m just so sick of politics, over and over again, just stalling things and making it hard for people, making it hard for business,” Martins said. “That’s not our job as elected officials.”

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