City Councilors Ian Abreu and Hugh Dunn should abstain from Thursday night's city council vote concerning the applications of three companies seeking to dispense marijuana in New Bedford.

The council's Special Committee on Cannabis Regulation and Host Community Agreements approved the applications of Southcoast Apothecary, Tree Beard Inc., and Metro Harvest Inc. on Monday night. The full council is expected to follow suit on Thursday night.

The principles of two of the three companies, Tree Beard Inc. and Southcoast Apothecary, have made campaign contributions to elected officials in this election cycle. Those who received donations should turn the money back and abstain from voting on the applications on Thursday.

Mayor Jon Mitchell accepted $600 from the principles of Southcoast Apothecary and Abreu and Dunn each took donations from Tree Beard Inc. Abreu accepted $250 and Dunn $260.

While there is no reason to believe that the contributions are in any way illegal, the idea of donations being accepted by officials who will then vote on contracts involving the donor's business doesn't look good.

Because Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was recently charged with allegedly selling letters of non-opposition to would-be vendors, officials in New Bedford should be extra careful to prevent even the perception of impropriety. They have not.

Mitchell, Abreu, and Dunn should return the donations and Abreu and Dunn should abstain from voting on the applications of the three pot vendors with tentative Host Community Agreements with the City of New Bedford.

But they won't.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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