Swampscott Caps Weed Dispensaries

SWAMPSCOTT — At the Special Town Meeting last Tuesday, the town voted to limit the number of cannabis dispensaries allowed in the town to two.

Since the town has already entered into a host-community agreement with one dispensary and is engaged in talks with another, this could effectively close the door to any additional companies seeking to sell marijuana in the town.

“The reason why the Select Board decided to limit the number to two is to provide certainty. There have been a lot of inquiries about other locations in town, and I know that a lot of people have had concerns about where these establishments would go,” said Select Board Chairman Peter Spellios at the meeting.

“With knowledge that the town has already identified two locations, the hope is to give Swampscott residents assurance that future marijuana retail establishments will not be occurring in Swampscott.”

The bylaw limits the amount of retail weed licenses to a maximum of 20 percent of the number of package store licenses distributed by the town.

The town currently has issued three alcohol licenses and five beer and wine licenses. Twenty percent of that number is 1.6, which, according to the new bylaw, is then rounded up to the nearest whole number, two.

The Select Board voted unanimously in September to enter negotiations with Calyx Peak Companies, a weed distributor seeking a decade-long lease on the town-owned former C & L Package Store at 16 New Ocean Street.

The proposed store sparked some objections from the community, with residents citing concerns about potential negative consequences of having a cannabis shop in the area at a community meeting in August.

“This is an area where there are numerous small children,” said Irene Pepperberg, who lives near the proposed store. “How do you control people walking into your store and opening up their bags of gummy bears and dropping them on the street for a child to eat?”

Earlier this summer, the town entered into a host-community agreement with the local weed distributor Terpene Journey LLC, which intends to open a dispensary at the former eye-care center at 430 Paradise Road, next to the Vinnin Square Domino’s.

This project was also greeted with some skepticism from locals, who voiced concerns about the additional traffic the store would generate at a community-outreach meeting last year.

According to owner and CEO, Swampscott local Tom Bogacz, the store is targeting an opening in the first quarter of 2021.

In general, Swampscott residents have mixed opinions on legal weed. In 2016, a narrow majority of Swampscott residents (53 percent) voted in favor of the state-wide ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana sales.

The cap on dispensaries passed by a wide margin –172 in favor to 20 opposed.

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