Why New Bedford doesn’t have recreational marijuana stores [OPINION]

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Voters in Massachusetts have agreed to Question 4 of the November 2016 statewide ballot legalizing cannabis use for adults 21 and older. The poll initiative also established the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the sale of marijuana. Retail sales began two years later, in November 2018.

So here we are in September 2021, and you still can’t buy a joint in New Bedford – unless, of course, you buy it illegally on the street from a dealer. Why is that? It’s a good question.

Many who are anxious to go to a brick and mortar establishment to buy a bag of dimes, if there is still such a thing, believe that there is a conspiracy to prevent the legal weed from New Bedford. They might insist that crooked politicians pocket winnings to keep you driving to Fall River or Wareham to get the ganja.

The reality is that the people who are licensed to sell legal pot in New Bedford are struggling to execute their plans. So far, only one has obtained the financial support to open a pottery store. It would be Ascend, which is rehabilitating a property on Coggeshall Street. This will likely be the first marijuana retail store to open in New Bedford.

Funding for a planned marijuana retail store on Hathaway Road has collapsed, forcing developers to start the process over with new investors. In fact, they were in front of the New Bedford Planning Board for a permit this week.

Ian Abreu, the chairman of the city council’s cannabis committee, told me about the four hospitality agreements approved by the city, only the Ascend project is progressing. Two other developers had issues with owners and failed to get started. Abreu said there were four new host agreement requests currently pending with the Mitchell administration.

To be frank, the inability of project developers to move their projects forward is the reason New Bedford doesn’t have any pottery stores at this point. It’s that simple.

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

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