It was about midnight when the secret ballots were tabulated. Easton voters banned recreational marijuana sales, 169-143, a margin of 26 votes.
The vote came after a lengthy and passionate discussion over the article at Town Meeting Monday night, May 21, at Oliver Ames High School. It was one of two proposals put forward by the town’s Marijuana Advisory Commission.
The second article, supported by the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee, would have allowed cultivation, testing facilities and product manufacturers. It was withdrawn after the ban passed.
“It’s in conflict with the character of our community,” Williams Street resident Amy MacMannis said. “It goes against so much of what we have been working for in teaching our kids about healthy choices.”
MacMannis said even allowing cultivation supports retailers and sends the wrong message to kids. She was also concerned that retail shops also sell edible products and oils.
Janice Wolffe, a member of the Finance Committee, said kids will still access marijuana but this would be regulated as opposed to more dangerous versions available on the street.
Resident Todd Sandstrum said the marijuana industry in Massachusetts is more regulated than the liquor industry.
Another speaker said teens’ consumption of marijuana, as well as opioid use, has dropped in Colorado where marijuana is legal.
Supporters of allowing the cultivation article argued the town could reap some revenue to support its budget and fund needs like drug education and the recently cut school resource officer position.
One voter said residents would just travel out of town to obtain marijuana.
“You are driving business out of the town. You are charging kids extra fees to participate in activities at school and turning down revenue,” he said, referring the fee increases passed by the School Committee to balance next year’s budget.