Is Dracut Ready to Go to Pot?

By: Brian Genest – Nov. 2018

Ready or not, here comes the weed. A company that wants to run a recreational marijuana dispensary in Dracut unveiled its plan at a community outreach meeting in town last month. GreenStar Herbals is expected to open the business on Pleasant Street, if granted a special permit by the board of selectmen.

Company officials offered residents and town officials an overview of the proposed business, including its security plan and other details. The community outreach meeting is just the latest development, as weed-related businesses get fired up across the state, including right here in Dracut.

In June, in anticipation of the state law going into effect, town meeting passed three articles related to marijuana – one outlining boundaries for marijuana establishments, one restricting retail marijuana establishments to the industrial zone and one imposing a 3-percent excise tax on retail sales of marijuana. In April, the board of selectmen authorized Town Manager Jim Duggan to hire a special town counsel to handle cannabis projects, if needed.

The path was blazed for retail marijuana businesses in town last year, after town meeting narrowly rejected a temporary moratorium on retail sales. The moratorium would have included dispensing, processing and cultivation activities, as well as the sale, storage and distribution of marijuana for non-medical use.

Now, I don’t want to kill anyone’s buzz, but I do have a few questions:

* Is it OK to giggle like a stoned teenager when the proposed establishment is described as a “high”-end boutique?
* Who’s going to worry about security outside the establishment, like on the roads all over town, where this recreational weed is likely going to end up? (Take a walk on Lakeview Avenue any day of the week right now and you already smell the weed smoke pouring out of cars passing by!)
* Is it just a coincidence that a former town building inspector is co-owner of the proposed location? If so, is it due to a small industrial zone, a small world or both?
* Will jokers, smokers and midnight tokers be getting their loving on the run? (And will they be getting it in our town?) I know, I know, they sure don’t want to hurt no one…
* Why is the town only able to tax retail weed sales at 3%, while the state is able to collect a 6.25% sales tax and a 10.75% excise tax on it? Whatever, man…
* Are Cheech and Chong movies available on Hulu?
* Will there be a shortage of “high-end” snacks in town, including upscale Cool Ranch Doritos, swanky Peanut M&Ms and oh-so-chic Oreo cookies?
* What could possibly go wrong? I’m guessing everything. Call me paranoid.

Brian Genest is chairman of the Dracut Republican Town Committee. A marketing and communications expert with 20 years of success driving growth, maximizing ROI and boosting profits for consumer and high-tech brands, he has developed and executed strategic initiatives for a range of disruptive technologies, including robots, mobile commerce solutions and SaaS products. Earlier in his career, Genest worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for the Dracut Dispatch, Derry News and Billerica Minuteman. ◊