Could Local Marijuana Question Show up on November 2019 Ballot?

A local ballot question banning any recreational marijuana shop in Winthrop probably won’t appear until the November 2019 election. The topic is scheduled to be on the Town Council meeting agenda next Tuesday night.

According to Town Manager Austin Faison, an opinion was asked for from the Attorney General’s office regarding an extension of time for the local moratorium on banning pot shops until Dec. 31.

The Attorney General’s office concluded that it does not have oversight when it comes to the local moratorium that the town council enacted last month. It is up to the Town Council. The town’s legal firm K&P also reviewed the situation.

“Long story short, the moratorium will be extended. We just need to choose an election date that everyone is comfortable with,” Faison said.

The Planning Board is working on zoning ordinance to safeguard the town in the event a ballot question to ban recreational marijuana shops fails.

The town council’s Rules and Ordinance Committee is working on language for the ballot question.

The town council is leaning toward a November 2019 date so the town can save money not holding a special election.

The town voted ‘yes’ on a statewide ballot question by 53 percent in 2016 in favor of recreational marijuana. Licenses for marijuana shops are based on the number of liquor licenses in town. Winthrop has six liquor stores and therefore could only have one recreational marijuana shop.

Since then several people have come forward saying they were confused by the question.

“Personally, I would rather get it done in March and get this resolved and behind us so that we can start planning one way or the other, but then a special election would cost the town approximately $20,000,” said Town Council President Ron Vecchia. “I am sure there will be further discussion on the council and input in general from the residents.”

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