Stoughton recreational marijuana businesses may be banned after 1,999 Stoughton voters decided that they don’t want to see pot related businesses seeding themselves and growing within the town. Two-thirds of Stoughton Town Meeting Representatives still need to approve the ballot results before the ban takes effect. We’ll see if the ballot initiative will go up in smoke then…
Stoughton voters got this wrong, plain and simple. There are recreational marijuana businesses that have already seeded themselves in Stoughton and they’ve been here for years. We just don’t see them, unless those business owners are getting arrested, because they have to keep low profiles.
These recreational marijuana businesses that are already in Stoughton are not being taxed by the local government or by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a result. This is 7% sales tax, 6.25% for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and 0.75% for the Town of Stoughton, that will be lost as a direct result of the shortsightedness of Stoughton voters. It’s shameful.
And what about commercial real estate developers and owners who might’ve benefitted from the income derived from marijuana related businesses taking up commercial space throughout Stoughton? Remember, the ballot question outlawed all types of recreational marijuana businesses which could’ve potentially included growing operations. Those growing operations could’ve potentially needed tens of thousands of square feet of warehouse space and that warehouse space may have been located in places off the beaten path.
This potential ban smacks of NIMBYism but it also smacks, more importantly, of fear mongering tactics which seemed to have been employed by the forces that wanted the recreational marijuana businesses banned. I noticed a Facebook Post by the Stoughton Police Department, it does a fantastic job, which contained a photo of some literature. It was disconcerting.
What does a NO vote mean?
- A no vote means provides no limitation on the number of retail marijuana businesses that can operate in Stoughton.
I immediately imaged a Stoughton with pot shops littering every corner and people toking all along Washington Street and in Stoughton Center. Maybe they’d get the munchies and hit up the new Sonic Drive-In? I imagined people in planes, as they were flying overhead on the approach toward Logan Airport, seeing a giant cloud of smoke over Stoughton. It was a frightening thought until I remembered the law of supply and demand from my ECON 102 – Introduction to Macroeconomics course at UMass Boston. That made me feel better because there will only be as many pot shops as supply will demand.
So your argument at this point is that the availability of pot shops will increase the number of reefer addicts, right? Maybe marijuana is a gateway drug that will spur an increase into the use of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin? That will happen in a few cases cases but, by and large, it won’t. My argument is that alcohol is much more likely to be a gateway drug than marijuana.
Let’s extrapolate. Have the number of bars and package stores in Stoughton serving alcohol increased the number of alcoholics in Stoughton? Has the availability of lottery machines and scratch tickets in Stoughton increased the number of gambling addicts. Maybe the law of supply and demand has dictated that there can only be a limited number of bars, lottery machines, package stores and scratch tickets in Stoughton because the demand is, for the most part, fixed? What I’m saying here is that there will be a fixed demand for marijuana growing facilities and pot shops.
If your answer is “yes” to the first two questions then shouldn’t we, as Stoughton residents, be in the process of banning gambling and liquor in Stoughton? See, it’s a slippery slope. Where do others’ personal liberties begin? They begin when they start infringing on each of us. So are pot smokers infringing on your personal liberties? They start infringing on my personal liberties, in my personal opinion, when I have to involuntarily smell it or when pot smokers decide to smoke and drive. Otherwise, I’m good.
What I’m saying here is that we should clear the clouds surrounding marijuana and bring it into the light. It’s not a nirvana. I definitely have reservations. I have two kids under the age of 2. I worry. Let’s help to increase Stoughton’s tax base by increasing sales tax revenue and real estate tax revenue by opening up the availability of commercial space to recreational marijuana facilities and shops. There will be an unknown dollar amount of additional costs associated with these types of businesses, sure, but let’s not be hypocritical.
You’re probably thinking that I’m the biggest pothead in Stoughton by this point, right? That would be wrong. I have smoked marijuana in the past but I’ve smoked it very infrequently and I don’t smoke in now. I just didn’t like much about any of it. I served in the Unites States Navy and, later, the Massachusetts Army National Guard for 8 years so that gave me a good excuse to stay away. I’ve never smoked cigarettes and I don’t even drink alcohol anymore so I’m a teetotaler now. This isn’t about me. This is about what’s right for the Town of Stoughton and it’s about increasing the freedoms of our neighbors.
So are Stoughton Town Meeting Representatives going to listen to the votes of the 1,999 Stoughton voters who rejected recreational marijuana businesses in Stoughton or the 7,157 Stoughton voters who approved recreational marijuana businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?