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#MUNICIPAL #GUIDANCE: Tewksbury

The warrants for Town Meeting on May 7 and Special Town Meeting on May 9 do not include articles that would ban recreational marijuana sales in Tewksbury. The town has been considering such a proposal to reflect the Tewksbury electorate’s opposition 2016 statewide referendum which legalized recreational marijuana. Tewksbury has a temporary ban in place but town officials will hold a series of meetings this summer before moving to make the ban permanent.

A warrant article is expected to be ready for a special town meeting in the fall, according to the Lowell Sun, which first reported this story. “The article was created and as we were getting close to the public hearing for the Planning Board, the Cannabis Control Commission came out with regulations, which gave us pause and made us say, ‘We can look at the regulations more closely’,” Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick told the newspaper.

The debate on whether or not to ban recreational marijuana sales in Tewksbury mirrors debates playing out for legislative bodies in a band of towns north of Boston that all voted against the last fall’s ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana use and sales in Massachusetts. The measure passed statewide, but Tewksbury voters were almost evenly divided on the ballot question in last years general election. In Tewksbury, just 8,727 voters, or 50.8%, opposed legalized cannabis, while 8,441 voters, or 49.2%, supported the measure.

Almost all of the towns in Massachusetts that voted against question four are considering or have adopted laws that will ban recreational marijuana sales. Statewide, the measure passed by a margin of 1,745,394 to 1,511,747. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a “compromise bill” that reworked the law to address concerns in the original language of the law. One of the biggest changes in the compromise bill was giving towns where the measure failed more leeway to ban recreational marijuana sales.