Gamache had initially proposed containing any such shop to the adult zone, but he abandoned that plan to support the mayor. He reasoned that if the city’s prohibition was shot down in the court, the city could then institute zoning. “We would get a second bite of the apple.”
Further, Gamache referenced a meeting with police Chief Robert Champagne, who he said advised that people hoping to operate marijuana dispensaries would likely quickly bypass cities that resist. If the path to Peabody is quickly blocked, Gamache suggested, they will go to cities like Salem or towns like Boxford instead.
“This is an issue where we need to be proactive,” the mayor agreed.
The councilor’s deeper misgivings became more apparent during a session of the full council later in the evening.
Member Arthur Athas seemed to regret his support for the ballot measure as he had believed that the drug would be dispensed in pharmacies.
“Perhaps I was naive,” he said.
In the same vein, Councilor Rico Mello wondered at a drug regime where there has been no testing and the drugs are dispensed with no reliable method of gauging their strength.
“I hear this is some kind of medical facility,” he said. “It’s ludicrous.”
In five years, Sinewitz predicted, will come a push for fully legalizing the drug. “This is about legalizing marijuana. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
Council President Jim Liacos said that his mind was made up by his sons, who have lived in Colorado and California, which have both passed similar laws. “They said, ‘Dad, it’s a joke.’ Both states are just smoking pot everywhere. Every strip mall has little shop.”
Councilor Anne Manning-Martin saw the board’s role as adopting the referendum to the requirements of the community. “That’s been left to us.”