Gomes says he regrets marijuana zoning vote

Twitter icon

Councilors stood and debated the future of marijuana in the city Thursday night.

Marijuana motions cluttered the agenda, however Councilor-at-Large Brian Gomes’ motion created the majority of the discussion.

Gomes requested that the City Council forward a letter of request to the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) as to whether New Bedford is following state law regarding marijuana establishments in the city. The motion further ask that the CCC review the application and the zoning map and report back to City Council as to whether they meet the laws of the state’s Cannabis Commission.

Gomes also asked that Steven Hoffman, chairman of the CCC or a representative, meet with the Special Committee on Licensing and Zoning for Cannabis to discuss whether New Bedford followed Massachusetts laws and policies regarding marijuana establishments.

“I’ve had my problems with how this was all structured right from the beginning... ,” Gomes said.

Councilor-at-large Ian Abreu questioned the relevance of the motion since currently the CCC doesn’t weigh in on municipalities’ host agreements. He said if he felt zoning boxed out business, he would never have voted for it as the chair of the zoning committee.

City Council President Linda Morad agreed and said the CCC has said it’s not playing referee.

“I believe we did it right,” Morad said.

She also asked Gomes to withdraw the motion or table the motion to protect the City Council. Gomes agreed to table the item for two weeks; however a letter would still be sent to the CCC, requesting information on the agency’s authority to review host agreements.

Councilor of Ward 2 Maria Giesta questioned Gomes’ rhetoric that the ordinance was passed with problems.

“The members of the City Council, of the ordinance committee, of the cannabis committee voted five times, yes, to pass the ordinance. Five times, ladies and gentlemen,” Giesta said. “At no time did anyone stand up and ask to amend the ordinance. They had the opportunity to speak against it and no one did. Again the vote was unanimous.”

Gomes, who is a member of the Cannabis Licensing and Zoning Committee with Vice Chair Giesta and Chair Abreu, raised concerns throughout the process, but voted to support the zoning. He said he voted yes because there was pressure to approve zoning immediately and it was going to be reexamined later.

He said he now regrets voting yes.

“If I could go back in time I would not trust anyone. I would probably even put the charter rule into effect if I had to,” Gomes said. “That is my stance."

Giesta also stated Whisk and Jane LLC, which attended the meeting, would not get approved for its Pope's Island location, despite her support for their success, due to the fact it was a designated port area. The Port Authority confirmed this.

Discussion around Whisk and Jane began in a cannabis zoning meeting in December.

“To even suggest that we didn’t work on this issue, is just wrong and flies in the face of just lies and misinformation. I’m not here to grandstand. That’s not my job,” Giesta said. “I’m here to bring the facts. Whisk and Jane unfortunately were denied their location because of the Port Authority.”

The night began with a report from the Committee on Licensing and Zoning for Cannabis that recommended the Host Agreement Committee review the current Cannabis Zoning Ordinance. The purpose is to identify if there are any zoning or other issues that may affect the marijuana business application process. The report was referred to the Committee on Ordinances without discussion.

The theme continued at the end when Gomes and Councilor of Ward 6 Joe Lopes each submitted communications to the council on behalf of parties interested in opening recreational marijuana businesses in the city.

Whisk and Jane LLC, from Gomes, and SoCo Green, from Lopes, were both represented at last month’s Licensing and Zoning for Cannabis meeting. Whisk and Jane submitted three documents through Gomes, including a Dec. 24 letter to the city asking that the city take immediate action in repealing at least a portion of its marijuana zoning ordinances.

“The zoning, it has essentially blocked out of most of the city. Financially, it’s made it extremely difficult,” co-owner of Whisk and Jane LLC Ericca Kennedy told The Standard-Times last month.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: 
Regional Marijuana News: