Ballot measures in two Massachusetts towns failed to overturn their respective local ban on adult-use cannabis establishments, during Tuesday’s election. Randolph and Methuen will continue to be counted among the 55 municipalities in the state with cannabis facility bans.
Methuen, a suburb of Boston that borders New Hampshire in the northeast corner of the state, voted to maintain its ban, 2,266 to 1,681. Five years ago, the town passed the ban 11,869 to 11,050. That was in 2016, so the presidential election drew more voters.
Andre Colon, who was planning to open a cultivation site in Methuen had the vote gone the other way, lamented the fact that only about 11% of the town voting population made it to the polls.
“Yes, there was a low turnout, really because there was no publicity nor any sharing via social sites,” he said. “I keep hearing people say that they did not know that the cannabis question was on the ballot. Furthermore, they all say, ‘Had I known, I would have voted yesterday.’ I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t disappointed in the outcome but I do believe in the people and evolution.”
Although adult-use cannabis has been legal in the state for five years, residents still have a long way to go in understanding it, according to Colon.
“I respect the vote of the people, but I believe that it is fear and lack of cannabis education that drives the majority of those opposed,” he said. “The opposition believes that cannabis is a gateway drug, but by removing it from the street corner to a tax paying dispensary you eliminate the gateway part because curiosity never peaks about other drugs being sold in the street corners, moreover, it can help reduce the millions of dollars entering the black-market that helps fund the gang wars and murders.”
In Randolph, which is also a suburb of Boston, about 20 minutes south of the city, the repeal failed 1,437 to 1,314, compared to four years earlier when the ban passed 2,346 to 1,952.
Randolph Town Manager Brian Howard, who supported repealing his town’s ban, was disappointed that the town would not be able to benefit from increased tax revenue that cannabis businesses bring to host towns.
“The state will soon allow for the delivery of marijuana and Randolph residents will be able to use these marijuana delivery services but Randolph may not be eligible to receive a portion of the gross sales,” said Howard. “Randolph deserves an opportunity to benefit from the sales of marijuana just like other communities. Quite simply, Randolph is leaving money on the table.”
Colon said he believes that people will eventually come around to the idea of legal cannabis. Colon has plans to build a cultivator center in Haverhill, which is one town over from Methuen.
“Cannabis establishments are fairly new to Mass. but I believe that through education and community participation we can educate the public about safe cannabis use and the harmful contaminants found in street cannabis,” he said.