UPDATED - DFI presents findings to Framingham's Marijuana Task Force

UPDATED  - MAY 31, 2018

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

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On May 31, Downtown Framingham, Inc. (DFI) presented its findings to Framingham's Marijuana Task Force after interviewing 63 businesses this May in downtown's Central Business District (CBD) and one business in South Framingham's manufacturing district.

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.

 Richard Sanger address the Marijuana Task Force

Richard Sanger address the Marijuana Task Force

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.

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Framingham's City Council recently contacted DFI to gather feedback from a sample downtown businesses about this opportunity. Richard Sanger, a policy intern at DFI and Master of Business Administration candidate at Framingham State University, walked into 63 CBD venues this May and held meaningful dialogues with business managers and owners, collecting their responses to opening a downtown dispensary. DFI also collected feedback from one downtown businesses in the nearby manufacturing area.

Feedback from a sample of Central Business District and Manufacturing zone businesses during May 2018

While four businesses (accounting for 6 percent of the total) vocally chose not to respond to the inquiry, 60 businesses shared their responses and foreshadowed possible impacts of a downtown marijuana dispensary upon the area.

41 percent of respondents, or 26 businesses, 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.

"If proper care is taken to select the right businesses, they will increase traffic and visitors to the area. If they are the right businesses, they will bring in the right kind of visitors," shared one downtown business manager.

However, 53 percent of respondents, or 34 businesses, 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

DFI Policy Intern Richard Sanger addresses Framingham's Recreational Marijuana Task Force on May 31

"This was my first assignment, and I really enjoyed discussing this policy issue with the local 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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