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MA: Marijuana Options Head To Town Meeting In Mashpee

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
The Mashpee Board of Selectmen on Monday, August 21, decided to give voters three options in crafting its town ordinances surrounding retail marijuana.

Those in attendance at October Town Meeting will have the choice of putting a two-year moratorium on allowing recreational marijuana shops to open, limiting the number in town to one or two stores, or taking no action and essentially allowing any number of retail marijuana stores to open in Mashpee.

The vote Monday, which was unanimous, differs from how two communities adjacent to Mashpee have dealt with the situation, and comes on the heels of an amendment to the 2016 state ballot recently signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.

Mashpee selectmen earlier this year decided that instead of taking action at May Town Meeting, they would wait until there was further clarity on the bill. With the new regulations passed, the board decided on Monday to take action and provide voters some options.

One article at Town Meeting in October would limit retail marijuana stores to 20 percent of the number of liquor stores in town, as the law allows. Mashpee currently has nine liquor stores so the town could only permit one store. If another liquor store opened in town, increasing the number to 10, a 20-percent limit would allow two marijuana stores to open.

Selectmen also proposed an article that would put a two-year moratorium on retail marijuana sales in the town.

If both articles were voted down, "it would be wide-open season," selectman Andrew R. Gottlieb said at Monday's meeting. Any number of marijuana stores could open in Mashpee.

Gov. Baker signed a compromise bill into law on July 28. The compromise bill addressed a dispute among lawmakers over local control of retail stores that would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana. The stores will be allowed to open starting next summer in Massachusetts communities that allow them.

Under the new legislation, cities and towns where voters backed the ballot question–more than 260 of the state's 351 communities–could ban or restrict retail marijuana stores only through a local election. These communities include the four outer Cape towns of Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet and Eastham.

In communities where a majority of residents voted against the ballot question, which includes Mashpee and most of the rest of the Cape towns, selectmen must submit a bylaw to and gain passage at Town Meeting before imposing any restrictions. For restrictions to go into effect, voters must approve the bylaw with at least a two-thirds majority.

At the May town elections in Falmouth and Sandwich, voters approved explicit bans on the sale of marijuana in their respective towns.

Also in May, Bourne voters at Town Meeting approved of a moratorium that lasts until November 30, 2018–five months past July 1, 2018, the state's implementation date for recreational marijuana retail sales.

News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
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