Speaker after speaker, 17 in all, rose to voice their opinions on the question of the night at Stoneham’s Special Town Meeting. Should the town ban the sale of recreational marijuana?
A passionate discussion ended with secret ballots, followed by an announcement from Town Moderator Jeanne Craigie. By a vote of 289-112, Stoneham residents said yes to prohibiting the sale of retail marijuana in town.
The vote mirrored the 2016 state election when Stoneham residents were opposed to Question 4 and the legalization of recreational marijuana with 6,886 voting no to 6,121 yes. But the state-wide vote passed and it became law. The state then allowed towns that had opposed to Question 4 the opportunity to ban sales in their towns.
“Bringing this to town meeting was kind of like a layup because the town already said no,” said George Seibold, chairman of the Board of Selectmen and a father of two. “I think with the opioid crisis going on, I think the town sees that crisis going on and the last thing they want is to see this be part of another crisis. It was important to the town. They don’t want the shops in their town.”
Many had the chance to voice their opinions, including selectmen Caroline Colarusso and Thomas Boussy, who spoke in favor of the ban. “Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right for a community,” said Colarusso. Some residents talked of bad decisions and the need to take care of children, others countered that with marijuana being a 21-plus law it wasn’t about children at all.