In November, a majority of Southborough voters cast ballots against the legalization of Recreational Marijuana. But other state voters overruled them. Now, Southborough voters will get another shot at deciding what is legal in our Town.
This spring, Annual Town Meeting voters will be asked to vote on articles to either ban or regulate Recreational Marijuana. This shouldn’t impact the rights of individuals to grow plants for personal use.* The focus is on banning the commercial uses. Businesses were identified in the articles as:
marijuana cultivator, marijuana testing facility, marijuana product manufacturer, marijuana retailer or any other type of licensed marijuana facility.
Earlier this month, the Planning Board publicly discussed courses of action.** Members and the public were updated by Town Counsel on the Town’s legal options. The board decided to support an outright ban, with zoning restrictions as a backup measure.
Attorney Aldo Cipriano explained three articles the Town could pursue. Two are an effort outright ban the commercial uses. Those are the articles the Planning Board supports.
The third article would restrict zoning to the same zone allowed for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries. The Town plans to bring that Town Meeting as a backup in case the overall bans fail to pass.
If ATM voters support a ban, it would be the first step in approving it. Next, a Citizen’s Petition would have to be submitted to put the question to voters again – this time through a ballot question. That would be voted on in the November 2018 election.
The public outcry against marijuana in Southborough has been much louder than any public support. In the November election, the difference was just 53% to 46%. The number of voters attending Town Meeting will be far smaller than the over 80% turnout for the Presidential election. That is likely in favor of mobilized opponents to marijuana.
If it comes to it, where the voters who turnout for a November 2018 election would stand is more of a mystery. The turnout was 60% for 2014 midterms and 67% in 2010. And in 2008, 63% of voters chose to decriminalize marijuana (relax penalties for possession of small amounts).
Public hearings for the proposed articles are scheduled for Monday, February 27 at 7:00 pm. To read the draft articles, click links below:
- Article to outlaw Recreational Marijuana through Town General By-laws
- Article to prohibit Recreational Marinuana as a use in all Town Zoning Districts
- Article to restrict zoning of Recreational Marijuana
Once again, these articles are headed to Annual Town Meeting (not the Special in March).
*An individual’s right to grow a certain number of plants in his/her residence for personal use is a matter for the state legislature.
**I didn’t attend the February 6th discussion. This post is based on the draft minutes and the board’s discussion of them at their February 13th meeting.