In 2016, the state of Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana, opening up the flood gates for entrepreneurs to start looking for spaces to open up shop. But the historically working class neighborhoods of Dorchester in Boston, some residents say that dispensaries are just another threat to their community, which has struggled with drug abuse and other socioeconomic woes.
In states where marijuana has been legalized, weed-related businesses can hike up property values, and the taxes reaped from the revenue can be funneled into public programs. But there are also questionable health issues involved, like higher rates of hospitalization. And much like coffee shops and restaurants, a high-end dispensary could attract gentrifying clientele that could change the face of a neighborhood, especially since the legal weed business is dominated by white men.
Editor Ankita Rao spoke with residents and policymakers in Massachusetts as the rollout was underway.
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