The city of New Bedford is getting focused on the recreational marijuana industry before it fully blooms in 2018.

City Council President Joseph Lopes has appointed Ian Abreu chairman of a special committee focused solely on the regulation of legal marijuana in the city. Councillor Abreu is a proponent of business growth in general and in marijuana specifically. He believes the marijuana industry will be a job creator and a source of revenue to fund vital public services in Massachusetts and he wants to be sure New Bedford doesn't miss this opportunity.

Chairman Abreu will be my guest on 1420 WBSM January 28th, during the "Sunday Brunch" program from 11am to 1pm to discuss his new committee.

Abreu is not alone in believing legal pot is important for the growth of New Bedford. His political polar opposite, Ward 4 Councillor Dana Rebeiro, shares his enthusiasm for the potential of the marijuana economy. The voters of New Bedford voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing pot in a 2016 state ballot initiative. Pipes, rolling papers and marijuana grinders are sold in stores all over the city. There are at least two city stores focused on selling all the supplies and knowledge needed to grow marijuana for personal use.

Not everybody shares the view that legal marijuana should be sold to the public in the city of New Bedford. Mayor Jon Mitchell favors the commercial growing of medical marijuana but he doesn't favor it's distribution to or consumption by recreational consumers in his city. Other leaders in the city have remained quiet on the matter.

Will New Bedford create a regulatory environment that encourages or discourages private capital investment in a marijuana economy? The power to regulate is the power to encourage or discourage an activity. Investors need to know what the climate is going to be and if it will foster stability.

The New Bedford casino was lost because of a lack of stability in the regulatory climate due to the peculiar conditions imposed on Southeastern Massachusetts by state law. City officials worked diligently to assist in the development of a casino complex, however the project was doomed because of state and federal laws. New Bedford casino developers couldn't raise investment capital because of the instability created by the government.

President Lopes' creation of a special committee to deal with licensing and zoning of commercial marijuana is a positive step towards stability. This committee is a first in Massachusetts and may prove to be a model for other cities in the Commonwealth.

Chris McCarthy is the host of Sunday Brunch on 1420 WBSM New Bedford.  He can be heard most Sundays from 10am-1pm (depending on Red Sox/Patriots schedules).  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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