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North Andover Rejects Massive Indoor Pot Farm

This article is more than 3 years old.

North Andover voters blocked what would have been among the world's largest indoor marijuana farms — along with any other commercial marijuana businesses looking to set up shop in town.

More than 2,500 people showed up to a town meeting Tuesday night to vote on a ban on marijuana establishments. The ban passed with 55 percent of the vote, about in line with the town's vote against recreational marijuana during the statewide election in 2016.

The all-out ban covers not just the facility proposed by Massachusetts Innovation Works, but any commercial pot shop, research center or growing facility.

The facility had promised $5 million a year in payments to the town. Operators said it could become the single largest supplier of dispensaries in the state, funding medical research that can't legally be done at research institutions like universities or hospitals that receive federal funding.

"What we see is a future where this will be the premier research center for medical cannabis research," Tom Licciardello, co-chair of the Osgood Revitalization Coalition, the group supporting the proposal, told WBUR's Morning Edition Tuesday before the vote. "We have such a brain trust here in Massachusetts we think that clustering of experts is something for which we can all be proud."

But at least one town official didn't think the project was something North Andover should be proud of.

"We are a community that protects open space, we are a community that builds ball fields and parks ... we are sheep shearing, 4th of July on the Common, holiday parades ... we are a proud community," Selectwoman Rosemary Smedile said, according to the Eagle-Tribune. "This is our brand. We should not be changing our brand to the home of one of the largest marijuana growing facilities around."

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