Weed Billboard Pops Up in Eastie Park

A new billboard on Route 1A South from Weedmaps, the tech company that allows users to review and discuss cannabis strains and local dispensaries for adult-use and or medical-use marijuana, is sure to divide the community.

The billboard reads, “Smile Boston, Weed Is Legal” with the Weedmaps logo and info.

While East Bostonians began posting pictures of the new billboard last week on social media, with many pictures receiving enthusiastic ‘likes’ or smiley faces, some question the appropriateness of the billboard’s location.

While many have fought to remove the stigma associated with medical and recreational marijuana, there are some that still feel a little decorum is needed on the subject–even if those same people agree with the drug’s current status in society and culture.

The billboard, which towers over Route 1A South heading into the Sumner Tunnel, is anchored in the Bremen Street Park less than 100 yards of the East Boston YMCA’s youth facility that houses a daycare, teen programs, family programs as well as a gym.

While most could care less about the billboard’s content, some have said it’s a little tasteless to place a billboard celebrating the legalization of marijuana within eyeshot of impressionable youths.

Eastie is just beginning to wrap its collective head around the fact that both medicinal and recreational marijuana shops will be opening here in the near future. To that end residents are flexing control over where those shops should be, angirly shooting down proposals near North Suffolk Mental Health, the Social Centers, and other areas people in recovery as well as youth, children and families may frequent.

The billboard is owned and operated by Logan Communications, a company that found themselves embroiled in dispute with the community after a controversial electronic billboard the company proposed on McClellan Highway was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) last year. After the ZBA initially rejected Logan’s proposal to erect a 40-foot digital billboard on McClellan Highway on the Hilton Garden Inn’s property back in 2017 residents thought the issue was dead.

Then in October 2018 community activists that were long against placing new billboards in the neighborhood noticed the proposal was back before the ZBA for a vote.  Local activists that opposed the billboard showed up to the ZBA hearing, testified once again against the billboard and pointed out that since the ZBA rejected the proposal in February 2017 there has been no further community process to reexamine the proposal.

Despite their efforts, the ZBA voted in favor of the proposal with the support of Mayor Martin Walsh’s office. At the ZBA meeting several non-profit agencies like the Salesian Boys & Girls Club and Crossroads Family Shelter spoke in favor of the billboard because of Logan’s commitment to advertise the agencies on the new billboards. Logan, who also owns numerous high-profile billboards in the community, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years to some of these local organizations.

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