Stonington will hold town meeting vote on allowing marijuana sales
Stonington — The Board of Selectmen has agreed that voters will decide if the town should allow retail sales and processing of marijuana.
According to the state law that legalized the recreational use of marijuana and took effect July 1, municipalities have discretion to allow or prohibit cannabis businesses within their borders, as well as regulate signs and operating hours.
The law allows one retailer and one retail grower for every 25,000 residents, which means Stonington can have one of each. Towns also can bill cannabis businesses up to $50,000 for the extra police and infrastructure required for the businesses to open. Towns also can implement a 3% tax on marijuana sales.
The opening of recreational marijuana shops in Massachusetts created traffic and long lines of customers and the shops continue do a brisk business. A Stonington marijuana store may be especially popular because of the town's easy access from Interstate 95, and its proximity to Rhode Island, which does not allow the recreational sale and use of marijuana.
A marijuana store also could capitalize on the large numbers of tourists who flood into Mystic each year.
First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough said Wednesday that neither members of the Planning and Zoning Commission nor the Board of Selectmen felt comfortable in deciding whether to allow a marijuana store in town.
"It's such a big decision for the town," she said.
So, Chesebrough said the plan is to hold a town meeting this fall, at which residents would debate and vote on the issue. A resident also could collect signatures and force an all-day referendum vote.