If you are a resident of Newton, MA, sign this petition.

In 2016 Massachusetts voters voted to legalize Marijuana. Except they didn’t know what they were voting for! In Colorado and Washington, the question of legalization and commercialization were completely separate. The marijuana industry apparently learned from that and rigged the Massachusetts ballot question so that a voter legalizing marijuana would also be mandating communities to open marijuana stores. For Newton, MA, this means at least 8 stores. When voters were recently polled, it became clear that the vast majority did not know that this was at stake, and that the majority of them in fact does not want to open marijuana stores in their communities. For example, when I voted I didn’t know that this was at stake. Read the official Massachusetts document to inform voters, see especially the summary on pages 12-13. There is no hint that a community would be mandated by state law to open marijuana stores unless it goes through an additional legislative crusade. Instead it says that communities can choose. I think I even read the summary back then.

Now to avoid opening stores in Newton, MA, we need a new ballot question. The City Council could have put this question on the ballot easily, but a few days ago decided that it won’t by a vote of 13 to 8. You can find the list of names of councilors and how they voted here.

Note that the council was not deciding whether or not to open stores, it was just deciding whether or not we should have a question about this on the ballot.

Instead now we are stuck doing things the hard way. To put this question on the ballot, we need to collect 6000 signatures, or 9000 if the city is completely uncooperative, a possibility which now unfortunately cannot be dismissed.

However we must do it, for the alternative is too awful. Most of the surrounding towns (Wellesley, Weston, Needham, Dedham, etc.) have already opted out. So if Newton opens stores, it basically becomes the hub for west suburban marijuana users, at least some of whom would drive under the influence of marijuana (conveniently undetectable). Proposed store locations include sites on the way to elementary schools, and there is an amusing proposal to open a marijuana store in a prime Newton Center Location, after Peet’s Coffee moves out (they lost the bid for renewal of the lease). The owners of the space admit that people have asked them for a small grocery store instead, but they think that a marijuana store would bring more traffic and business to Newton Center. I told them to open a gym instead. That too would bring traffic and business, but in addition it would have other benefits that cannabis does not have.


  1. So you believe that if there are not dispensaries there will be no marijuana use?
    Or are you merely opposed to regulated distribution as opposed to black market, hidden, unregulated, untaxed, and potentially impure/tainted distribution?

    1. I just want Newton voters to decide, instead of suffering the consequences of a rigged election whose loopholes were not explained to them.

      It seems that some people are afraid of having the ballot question, and rightly so, because Newton residents do not want this.

  2. Appreciate your desire to have a ballot question added, but respectfully you do not speak for all of Newton when you say, “because Newton residents do not want this.”

  3. Here is an e-mail sent to Emanuele (who encouraged me to post it as a comment).

    Hi Emanuele,

    We briefly met when I was interviewing at NE. I’m writing in regard to your last post about weed stores.

    I live in Washington, and here weed is completely legal. I should tell you that weed stores are very clean, nice and well-contained: overall, way less seedy than liquor stores. Also, I don’t believe I notice more high people on the street than in other US cities where I lived for extended periods of time (actually, I think it’s way fewer, in fact).


    1. I am certainly happy to hear that they are less seedy than liquor stores. But the facts are that most of our surrounding towns, most of which have similar characteristics (suburban, etc.) have banned them, and that if you trust the poll that was conducted, the overwhelming majority of people didn’t know what they were voting for, and the majority does not want stores.

      And the bottom line is that all that we are asking is for this question to be on the ballot. If weed stores are so good, then there shouldn’t be a problem to let the city approve of them. Clearly, the industry is taking advantage of the fact that people didn’t realize what was going to happen.

      In your state, were there two separate questions for legalization and commercialization? This is what I am told, is it true?

      1. I see what you mean, and I agree that the industry is probably taking the advantage. I’m just trying to say that the end result should not be nearly as bad as the worst-case scenarios (in fact, I suspect that, unless you are a weed user yourself, you’ll hardly notice any difference).

        BTW, do you happen to know if Cambridge or Boston proper will have the stores?

        I’m not sure about WA, since I visited here for the first time back in 2015 (and moved in the past January), when everything was settled already.

        Let me also add that in the other place I’ve been to, where weed is completely legal (Amsterdam), the situation was similar to WA.

      2. I don’t know about Cambridge or Boston, but I think the question is somewhat irrelevant. Newton is very different from Cambridge and Boston, and Amsterdam for that matter. You move here to be in a quiet and safe neighborhood where you can grow your family and trees, not to smoke weed. Also the fact that we would be the only town in the area with such shops makes securing a ban critical.

  4. I’m sorry but this is just inaccurate. Garden Remedies has been open as a dispensary on Washington St since 2016 and is one of only a few in all of Boston. I bet most people don’t even know it’s there. Did you? Have you ever noticed any high people in Newton? Do you know if they came directly from Remedies? Doubtful. Double doubtful. There is a moratorium on recreational shops until the end of the year anyway, so at the very least Remedies (since it was grandfathered in) will be the only recreational shop until others are allowed to open. Hardly a change or inconvenience from the way things have and will be in the future. One thing I think everyone fails to realize is that by every township being non-progressive they are literally saying “we are too afraid to face reality or change. Let us hide behind this fear and use it as a mask of morality.” When truth be told, they are closing the doors on progress, only to let any problems or inconveniences fall upon another town. The people who want to smoke will have to drive longer, farther, past more schools, old ladies on crosswalks, babies in strollers, and Dunkin Donuts, to get what they want, when if people hadn’t been so afraid and just let the stores open, these customers may have been to able just walk down the street to the shop, then home again to go about their peaceful lives. Your fear and ignorance puts infinitely more at risk. FACT. Alcohol and cigarettes, quite frankly, are what people should be rioting in the streets about. Two inescapable words related to those products: Death Tolls. FACT. That is just, pure and simple, NOT something you need to worry about with marijuana. FACT. Finally, your “polls”, are only answered by squares and fuddy-duddy’s. In the year 2018, polls mean nothing.

  5. Your assertion that the “vast majority” of Newton residents don’t want marijuana stores has absolutely no evidence to substantiate it. There has yet to be any survey conducted on the matter with proper sampling and demographics in Newton, so any claim in either direction is completely false! You are building your argument on a premise that has simply not been proven – and no, online surveys and “everyone I talked to!” don’t count as proper surveys.

    What is known is that Newton did vote to legalize marijuana, and I think it’s simply madness to think that the majority of voters wanted to legalize marijuana but did not want to commercialize it. I have no idea what sort of mental hoops you have to jump through to rationalize that line of thought.

    1. Newton voted for “A city or
      town could hold a local vote to determine whether
      to permit the selling of marijuana and marijuana
      products for consumption on the premises at
      commercial establishments.”
      This is written on Page 12 of the official document “Information for Voters” linked above.

      Now you don’t want the city to hold that local vote.

  6. Opting Out of allowing retail marijuana stores in Newton would not affect an adult’s right to use or grow recreational marijuana. It also won’t affect medical marijuana stores in Newton, which would still be allowed. Newton consumers can still buy recreational marijuana in Brookline, Boston, West Roxbury, and probably Watertown and Waltham, and will be able to get home delivery if that is approved. So, the market should still work, curbing illicit sales, but we won’t have to have all the problems associated with storefront marijuana retail in Newton.

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