MA: Ludlow Voters Ban Recreational Marijuana Facilities In Town

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Ron Strider

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Voters in the Town of Ludlow have approved two amendments -- one to the general bylaws, the other to the zoning bylaws -- to permanently prohibit retail marijuana or cultivation facilities from setting up shop in this community of 21,000 residents.

The votes took place at the special town meeting Nov. 6, when articles 3 and 4 were approved by a majority of residents. The outcome was hardly surprising considering Ludlow's consistent opposition to marijuana, making the town the latest community in Western Massachusetts to ban recreational pot.

Over 53 percent of Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative in November 2016 allowing adults to possess and use limited amounts of marijuana and grow up to a dozen pot plants at home, but state lawmakers delayed implementation of the law until July 1, 2018.

In Ludlow, about 52 percent of voters rejected the statewide ballot initiative and 48 percent supported it, or 5,222 votes to 4,823. That placed the town alongside 90-plus other commonwealth communities that voted no at the ballot level.

Ludlow voters had already approved a temporary ban on recreational pot until June 30, 2018, but now the town has taken things a step further with the permanent ban.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously supported articles 3 and 4, according to William E. Rooney, chairman of the selectmen, who spoke out against recreational pot at the Nov. 6 meeting.

Not everyone in town thinks precluding land or structures from being used for the cultivation or retail sale of marijuana is a good idea, however.

"This is another revenue stream that we sorely need in town," said resident Vinnie Thompson, saying the town may as well capitalize on the legalization of recreational pot.

"Marijuana's here," Thompson said. "It ain't going anywhere."

Ludlow joins a growing list of local communities that have placed bans or moratoriums on marijuana establishments, including Wilbraham, West Springfield, Longmeadow and East Longmeadow.

In Wilbraham, residents voted no on recreational pot in May, while a ballot question banning such establishments in East Longmeadow passed by a landslide the following month.

Last week, Longmeadow voters overwhelmingly approved amendments to prohibit the establishment of recreational facilities in town, including cultivation facilities.

In February, West Springfield approved a moratorium on marijuana facilities until Dec. 31, 2018.

The recreational ban in Ludlow does not affect medical marijuana, which remains legal in town.

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