The issue was just one of many raised at a dual-panel discussion Tuesday where local municipalities shared their knowledge and experience with the birth of the cannabis industry.
“People are worried that we’re going to be known for this,” Selectmen Vice-chair Edward Abrahams said. “There was a fair amount of panic in the town of people saying, ‘Oh my God, we’re getting overrun, we’re going to be Pot Town, USA,’ ”
Great Barrington gets an “awful lot” of tourists from New York City, Abrahams said, and recreational pot will probably bring more from a state where the drug isn’t legal, so they decided to put a requirement in their community host agreement for retail establishments to have a sign reminding people, “If it’s not legal in their state, they should know that.”
Abrahams’ anecdote is one of many that was shared by community leaders at the panels Tuesday, hosted in the John Adams Courthouse by the Cannabis Control Commission, the Social Law Library and the Massachusetts Municipal Association focusing on integrating the cannabis industry at the local level.
Local officials shared details about their communities, how it arrived where it is, the big questions that have come up, issues that have arisen, priorities for licenses, advice to establishments and advice to other communities.
Abrahams was among other community leaders including Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Hudson executive assistant Thomas Moses, Framingham COO Thatcher Kezer, and Miyares and Harrington LLP municipal counsel J. Raymond Miyares.
In Northampton, Narkewicz said that of all the neighborhood meetings they’ve held related to recreational shops opening, probably 70 to 80 percent of them were unattended. The city voted 75 percent in favor of medical marijuana, according to Narkewicz, and nearly 70 percent affirmative for adult use.
“It was fairly clear to me as the chief executive where my citizens stood in terms of this new industry,” he said. “Working with our City Council and our Planning Board and our other regulatory agencies we have tried to put in place a very thoughtful, I would say a very progressive and I would say not restrictive process.”