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Is it time to go green?

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~ Op-Ed ~

  It’s been 6 years since voters in Massachusetts approved the legalization of marijuana. Revere has taken a cautious approach to the cannabis industry so far, while the industry has grown considerably around the state and in surrounding cities.

  While it may have been wise for Revere to be cautious in the beginning, at this point, our community is losing out.

  In 2016, Massachusetts voted in favor of Question 4 for the legalization of recreational cannabis. In that election, the residents of Revere voted against legalization by only 7 votes – a 1.7% difference. But a lot has changed since 2016. The city’s population has grown over 20% in that time, and thoughts around legal marijuana may have changed as well, given how well legal cannabis has worked around the commonwealth.

  A recent poll done by RevereBeach.com suggests public opinion has shifted. The results showed that 77% of residents are now in favor of recreational cannabis – and, more importantly, the financial benefits that come along with the cannabis industry.

  In 2021 recreational marijuana made 3 billion dollars for the state of Massachusetts. Cannabis sales surpassed alcohol for the first time ever in December.

  This means that Revere is passing up millions of dollars each year in revenue, in addition to career opportunities and good paying jobs for residents.

  Cannabis has proven to be an industry that is resilient through difficult economic times, and can help with money for police, fire, equipment, as well as other areas if we get creative. We still have a chance to think outside the box – few industries provide the opportunity for cities and towns to think creatively about how to create jobs and revenue.

  We should know just what is possible for Revere, and provide that information to the people.

Recreational marijuana is an opportunity we should capitalize on. We are surrounded by cities and towns making money off the residents of Revere. Shops outside the city are advertising in our neighborhoods, and then delivering cannabis to customers in Revere – all while our city gets none of the benefit.

  On top of the tax revenue, we have the ability to negotiate community host agreements with cannabis businesses. We can ask them to support STEM education, or our Robotics team. We can ask them can help fix a playground every few years, or provide other benefits to youth and families. We have the ability to mold this emerging industry to the way we see fit.

  We all have our own opinions on cannabis, and we can all respect one another’s opinions. But it is proven that when safely regulated, it takes away a black market. All the horror stories from before legalization have been debunked. The state has got it right on cannabis: it should be legal, available, but tightly regulated, with extensive revenue benefits for host communities.

  On Monday, I asked the council to support a motion to look into the industry, its financial gains, and to take a look at the cities around Revere. We should analyze how much these cities are making, and how they are using this revenue to benefit their communities. That will allow us to have a full conversation about what the community benefits could be to legalizing cannabis businesses in Revere.

  I hope that we can gather this data about how things are going in neighboring cities, so that we can make decisions about this issue with full and accurate information, instead of based on fear or misinformation.

  As always, I respect all opinions on this topic, and welcome hearing your thoughts. I thank all the residents who have reached out to share their views, and look forward to talking to more of you in the future.

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