Downtown Businesses Respond to Potential Downtown Marijuana Dispensary

Richard Sanger, Downtown Framingham, Inc. Policy Intern, contributed to this article

Downtown Framingham is known for its density of small businesses, bevy of arts and entertainment venues, social strolls, historical and cultural tours, and no less than 10 recreational active spaces. When Massachusetts residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, conversations immediately sparked about opening a dispensary in downtown Framingham.

In March 2018, the Cannabis Control Commission, the state’s regulatory body, published the rules that will regulate the cannabis industry. With these guidelines in place, it is expected that the first recreational cannabis dispensaries will open in July 2018.

Framingham’s City Council recently contacted Downtown Framingham, Inc. to gather feedback from downtown businesses about this opportunity. Richard Sanger, a policy intern at Downtown Framingham, Inc. and Master of Business Administration candidate at Framingham State University, walked into 63 downtown businesses this May and held meaningful dialogues about their response to opening a dispensary in Framingham’s Central Business District.

While four businesses chose not to respond to the inquiry, 59 businesses shared their responses and foreshadowed possible impacts of a downtown marijuana dispensary upon the Central Business District.



42 percent of respondents were favorable towards having a cannabis dispensary in downtown Framingham. They shared that a dispensary would not have any noticeable impacts on their businesses, and some businesses shared that it could help their businesses by increasing foot traffic downtown.

However, 58 percent of respondents were not in favor of a marijuana dispensary in downtown. They felt it would have negative impacts upon both their businesses and the area.

Reasons for negative responses included:

  • perceptions about clientele who may smoke marijuana
  • odor coming into their establishments
  • current presence of smoking both cigarettes and cannabis immediately outside stores could increase with a nearby downtown marijuana dispensary.
  • one business shared that it would approve of a dispensary in Framingham, but not in the downtown area.

“This was my first assignment, and I really enjoyed discussing this policy issue with the downtown businesses. It was eye opening to listen to all reactions from our local businesses,” shared Sanger, also a downtown resident, after compiling the responses.

To learn more about Downtown Framingham, Inc., visit our website: https://www.downtownframingham...

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