Massachusetts

Debate Heats Up Over North Andover Mega Marijuana Research Facility

Residents are divided over the proposed 25-acre marijuana growing and research facility

The town of North Andover could soon be home to one of the largest cannabis cultivation and research facilities in the state. The developers say residents would not be able to smell it and they would not sell it on the premises, but they are trying to sell the town on the idea that some consider controversial before a crucial vote at the end of January.

The Osgood Landing facility, located at 1600 Osgood Street, once housed Lucent Technologies, but has been vacant for over a decade. Soon after the legalization of marijuana, those behind the project began having a conversation about using the space not just for cultivation, but innovation.

“Anytime you have a talk about cannabis, a lot of misconceptions can happen,” Tom Licciardello, the co-chair of the Osgood Revitalization Coalition said.

Licciardello knows there are plenty who are not open-minded to the idea, which is why he is spearheading an effort to educate the public with open houses and literature on the project called Massachusetts Innovation Works. He hopes residents will consider the millions in tax revenue the town would receive and the potential for groundbreaking research.

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“Cancer treatment, pain mitigation, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, the possibilities are endless,” Licciardello said.

However, signs popping around town show some neighborhoods are divided. Opponents to the concept are already organizing in a group called Citizens for a Drug Free North Andover.

“There’s so many things you could do with that space, I just don’t think that it’s right for our town,” CJ Gangi said.

Town Selectman Rosemary Connely Smedile is also adding her voice to the opposition, citing a number of concerns including federal law and property values.

“People are concerned,” Connely Smedile said. “They are concerned about their home investments and the message we are sending to our children.”

Both sides are looking for as many people as possible to come out to the special town meeting where the future of the facility will be decided with a vote on a needed zoning bylaw change. The meeting is happening on January 30th at 7 p.m. at North Andover High School.

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