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Councillors debate retail marijuana sales revenue

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  City councillors are grappling with the idea of opening the door to recreational marijuana shops.

  The council’s Economic Development Subcommittee has started reviewing the financial benefit the recreational cannabis industry could bring to the city. Last week, the subcommittee heard from Jordon Avery, President and CEO of Mass Green Retail which operates a recreational cannabis dispensary in Lynn on the Saugus line. Avery focused primarily on the tax revenue the city would receive by permitting recreational marijuana.

  In 2016, Revere voted 10,184 to 9,142 against legalizing adult recreational marijuana. The council followed up with a ban on recreational adult use marijuana sales in September 2017.

“A lot has changed since then,” Avery told councillors. “Weed is legal and it’s here to stay. It’s important to take a deep look into it.”

  Avery suggested putting the question back on the ballot and letting Revere reconsider the question.

He also listed a number of nearby communities and the significant amounts to tax revenue they were taking in through recreational marijuana sales. He suggested that Revere could see as much as $1.5 to $2 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana.

  “Folks are leaving your city and going to places like Chelsea and coming to Lynn and ultimately those cities and towns are generating the tax revenue that will impact the community,” Avery told the committee.

  Revere has approved a medical marijuana dispensary and Councillor Richard Serino questioned how much tax revenue that facility was generating. But medical marijuana does not bring any tax revenue to municipalities.

  Councillor Anthony Zambuto, who opposes recreational marijuana sales, raised several questions with Avery.

  You kind of glossed over that we’re going to overturn the will of voters or ask voters to vote again. Who’s going to pay for that?” Zambuto asked.

  Avery felt the question could be included on the next ballot.

  Zambuto also wanted to know what Avery knew about the dramatic uptick in emergency room visits due to marijuana use. Zambuto said marijuana produced today is much stronger than it was during the 60s and while it is beneficial for some people it is a problem for others.

  But Avery responded there has never been a death or overdose due to marijuana.

Councilor Anthony Cogliandro admitted he was against recreational marijuana sales but has changed his opinion over time.

  “I think we should put the question up again because I think the result will be a lot different tan five or six years ago,” he said.

  “We have marijuana being advertised here; we have it being delivered here. This for me is about tax revenue,” said Cogliandro adding that $1.5 to $2 million sounded really good.

  The subcommittee did not vote to make a recommendation to the full council but decided instead to keep the discussion within the committee.

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