Split opinions on marijuana



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Results of a straw poll conducted on Tuesday show that residents who participated are pretty evenly divided on whether they want the town to allow marijuana businesses.

There were five questions on the straw poll meant to gauge public interest in allowing some of the different types of marijuana businesses in the town.

It was a non-binding poll to gather information to direct the Board of Selectmen on whether or not to work on ordinance changes that would be put before voters at a future annual Town Meeting.

Allowing medical marijuana caregiver retail stores had the widest margin and got the most support in the poll with 212 votes in favor and 152 against the idea.

Respondents also favored allowing retail stores for adult use, or recreational, marijuana, but by a much narrower margin. That question received 188 votes in favor and 176 against.

Voters were divided on the other types of marijuana businesses allowed under state law. Cultivation facilities for adult use marijuana received 185 in favor and 180 against.

The questions about manufacturing facilities and testing facilities combined both adult use and medical marijuana businesses. Respondents favored manufacturing facilities by a vote of 191-174. Testing facilities received exactly the same number of “yes” and “no” votes, a 182-182 tie.

Town Clerk Marilyn Lowell reported there were 367 respondents to the straw poll and 368 ballots cast in the state election. That’s 23 percent of the town’s 1,574 registered voters.

In meetings leading up to the straw poll, selectmen said they wanted to see what the results were before deciding how to proceed.

At one meeting they discussed whether or not to act with a certain percentage of the vote in favor versus against. They did not decide on a number or percentage and decided to wait for the results before taking action in either direction.

Provisionary licenses for adult use businesses are scheduled to begin being distributed at the state level in 2020. Towns are required to opt in by a vote of residents in order to have adult use marijuana businesses operate within town limits.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley covers the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands. Send story ideas and information to shinckley@mdislander.com.

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