WESTBORO (CBS) — Residents voted Tuesday night to ban the sale of recreational marijuana in the town of Westboro, making them the first in Massachusetts to say no to pot shops.
“We’re the first town to essentially opt out of the recreational marijuana for commercial sales,” Westboro Town Manager Jim Malloy said.
Malloy said Westboro’s Board of Selectmen wanted to put the option to a vote in the community in part because the town was one that did not approve the state-wide ballot referendum to allow the sale of recreational pot in the Commonwealth last fall.
That ballot initiative, Question 4, passed by more than 200,000 votes, or 53.7 percent of voters.
“Residents will still be able to purchase it in other towns, transport it through town, and use it in their private residences,” Malloy explained.
And the ban is just against recreational pot–medical marijuana is still allowed.
“We cannot prohibit medicinal marijuana sales in town,” Malloy said. “We only had an option to prohibit the commercial, recreational marijuana sales.”
He said about 80 percent of people voted to prohibit pot shops–a margin that surprised him.
“We’ve been contacted by a number of other cities and towns asking for copies of the language that we have used and the process that we’re going through,” said Malloy. “So I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be a number of towns that follow us … it’ll be interesting to see how many communities do opt out before sales are legal to happen.”
It is still illegal to sell marijuana in Massachusetts except to registered medical marijuana patients, and the timetable for the opening of retail pot stores in the state was recently delayed by lawmakers until the middle of 2018.
The matter will also go up for a vote twice–as a general bylaw amendment and a zoning amendment–at Westboro’s Town Meeting on March 18. Malloy said the wide margin of the town vote bodes well for the ban passing both town meeting votes.
Westboro residents had mixed reactions to the decision.
Nicolina Sabatini owns a high-end women’s clothing shop. She said a marijuana retail location in town wouldn’t deter her customers.
“I have clients that come from everywhere. They would not run off. They would still come. Even if there was a pot shop they would still come here. So I am all for it,” said Sabatini.
Another resident, however, agrees with the Board of Selectmen.
“(Marijuana) shouldn’t be allowed. It’s a gateway,” the man said.