MA: Marijuana Choices Could Rile Bernardston Voters

Photo Credit: AP Photo

Marijuana will likely be one of the more controversial issues at Town Meeting, which will convene Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Pioneer Valley Regional School auditorium.

In May, residents voted 158 to 144 to ban the sale of recreational marijuana in Bernardston, but the decision must be ratified at Town Meeting. The ban requires a two-thirds majority.

If that ban passes, it can only be made effective if voters also approve an amendment to the zoning bylaw. That article also requires a two-thirds majority.

If the ban fails, two other articles on regulating the sale and use of recreational marijuana will be put to voters: whether to impose a 3-percent tax on sales; and whether the “open container” laws should be modified to apply to marijuana as well as alcohol, effectively restricting its use in public places.

“We’re the keepers of this town and it’s our responsibility to preserve the character, both fiscally and morally,” said Paula Reid, one of a few Bernardston residents campaigning against recreational marijuana.

But considering how close the May vote was, residents who oppose recreational marijuana feel helpless to stop it, said Ghislaine Burgess, who is also campaigning against it.

“We’re here to tell them there’s something they can do about it,” Burgess said. “They can go to the meeting and vote. This is the last chance they have to let their voices be heard on this issue.”

Burgess, Reid and others are offering transportation to Town Meeting for those who would otherwise be unable to get there.