Earlier this month, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts (the vaguely named organization pushing against Question 4, which would legalize marijuana for adults) sent out an email that warned voters, “We know their playbook. Pass Question 4 and usher in the dangerous edibles market; Allow home grows of thousands of dollars of marijuana, even over neighbors’ objections; Create more pot shops than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.”
Sure, the danger of edibles is something worth debating, and the initiative explicitly allows people to grow marijuana in their own homes no matter what their neighbors think (just like you can brew beer or grow any other plant without asking your neighbor’s permission). But this final claim, that Question 4 would create more storefronts than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined, is just plain wrong.
To start with, there are 484 Starbucks and McDonald’s according to the website Menuism.com (187 Starbucks, 297 McDonald’s). So would Question 4 authorize about 500 dispensaries across the state? Short answer: no.
Long answer: Theoretically, but only if hundreds of elected officials all over the state decided they wanted that many dispensaries (which isn’t going to happen). If Question 4 (full text here) passes, towns and cities will have the power to tie recreational marijuana licenses to the number of medical marijuana licenses or liquor licenses, which would be hugely different numbers: we only have 7 medical marijuana dispensaries in Mass, while we have 2,917 liquor stores. In the very likely event that municipalities pick the first option, there would only be dozens, not hundreds, of dispensaries in the state. Municipalities can even ban marijuana sales entirely if they put it to a popular vote and a majority of residents approve the ban.
I can see where this talking point came from: Colorado certainly has a lot of dispensaries, and that makes some people uncomfortable. But their law is completely different, and does not allow for the same type of local controls that Question 4 specifically includes. Conflating the two is not only dishonest, it’s blatant fear-mongering.