It isn't official and it hasn't been declared, but the City of New Bedford has effectively banned recreational marijuana sales within the city limits.

The use of zoning to limit activities is why zoning laws were created. Most people pay no attention to zoning laws when they are being created. Some elected officials understand how zoning laws work, and some don't have any idea. Some people appear to understand zoning laws and the implications of the map, but they don't and they are as in the dark as the people who elected them.

The process of developing and adopting zoning laws is slow and deliberate. It takes a focused mind and a disciplined person to attend all the meetings and to understand what is happening as the process evolves. Because of the impact of zoning, the process is purposefully designed to be open and public in a way that most matters are not required. But just because the public and the elected are invited doesn't mean they will show up or offer any input.

The recent meeting of the New Bedford City Council committee tasked with handling the rules and regulations of the newly-legal recreational marijuana industry showed just how important zoning is to businesses and residents. Three separate businesses who want to sell marijuana legally in New Bedford showed up to explain why they can't operate because of the zoning laws passed by the City Council and Mayor Jon Mitchell.

The people who showed up to example why they can't find a location to sell marijuana in the city were looking for answers. They got no answers, and probably are more frustrated today than they were when they went to the council committee meeting seeking answers.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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