The case for additional cannabis

Mar 19, 2024

Jaakko Rinta made a direct case for the benefits of additional marijuana retailers in town, speaking to the Select Board during a Tuesday, March 19 meeting. 

Rinta had submitted a citizen petition for a Spring Town Meeting article asking the town to remove its cap of three cannabis licenses. He appeared before the Select Board to explain the article. 

The cap on the number of licenses hurts the job market in the cannabis industry and removing it would improve the town, he argued. 

Rinta said he had worked in the cannabis industry since he became of legal age to do so in 2020. “In this time, I’ve been able to really grow tremendously. I do not have a college degree, but I was really able to grow a career in cannabis management,” he said. 

Select Board member Ron Besse said he appreciated the passion, but had concerns about how allowing more cannabis businesses in town could oversaturate the market. 

“Wareham’s not small, but it’s small,” said Besse. 

Rinta said additional competition would be beneficial for workers in the industry, and would potentially push stores to innovate. 

“My goal is to stay here in Wareham —- I love this town, I’ve grown up here,” he said. “Seeing this industry grow is a chance to build a life here, and I think a lot of other young people feel the same way.”

Chadwick said that, from his perspective as a paramedic, “I would rather have someone — we’ll say, quote, ‘overdosing’ on marijuana than dealing with a drunk in the back of my ambulance every day.”

However, he agreed with Besse’s concerns: he could support an additional one or two, but not an unlimited number, he said. 

When the board went to vote on whether to recommend the article at Town Meeting, board member Alan Slavin said he did not believe the Select Board should express an opinion on citizen petitions, and the board did not vote. 

Select Board Chair Judith Whiteside has previously raised a concern that the number of marijuana licenses in town is set by state regulations, not by town bylaws, leaving it unclear what effect a Town Meeting article would have. 

The article is currently set to be voted on by Town Meeting on Monday, April 22.