WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - State lawmakers are considering changes to the state's recreational marijuana law. They have a self-imposed Friday deadline to find a compromise. The 22News I-Team keys in on one battle which involves how towns would be able to deny retail pot shops.
Marijuana's legal, but do you want it sold in your town? Cities and towns will have the option to opt out of selling recreational marijuana.
State lawmakers are hammering out how. The two options on the table: Town-wide referendum or allowing government officials to opt out.
Seven communities in Hampden County (Wilbraham, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Hampden, West Springfield, Ludlow and Agawam) said no to recreational marijuana on November's ballot question. Every community in Hampshire and Franklin County approved it.
Since then, Wilbraham and East Longmeadow voted to ban marijuana sales and are waiting on final approval from the state.
The I-Team discovered 21 towns across the state have proposed similar bans and dozens more will have a moratorium , basically not allowing a pot shop to open in their town for the time-being.
Ludlow has a moratorium, while Agawam is considering one.
Agawam is considering a moratorium.
"I'm in favor of a moratorium right now because I don't want to see marijuana facilities near our public schools, our churches, I want the zoning to reflect where these facilities should be," said Agawam city councilor Richard Theroux.
West Springfield won't allow any marijuana retail shops to open until at least 2019. West Springfield is one of the towns that voted against legalizing it last November, but it's Mayor is considering allowing marijuana to be sold there.
"The voters voted in West Springfield voted against, I would love to see what the tax implications are and have a broader discussion of our community would be, if everyone allows it around us we're kind of stuck with the negative impacts without the positive benefits," said West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt.
Dean Martelli lives in West Springfield and believes the town has already made it's voice clear.
"i think that the town already made a stance on that, they didn't want the legalization of marijuana question 4 voted it down by close to 4 percent, I think the town wants to go that way," said Martelli.
If the final state bill leaves it up to government officials to decide, Mayor Reichelt says the Town Council would make those decisions and he would have to sign off on it.
Marijuana Retail sales won't start in the state until next summer at the earliest.
Longmeadow has yet to discuss opting out of marijuana retail sales, but Town Manager Stephen Crane told 22News they are closely monitoring the legislature and will discuss it further as events unfold. Crane said it's possible it will be up for discussion at their Town Meeting this fall.
South Hadley, approved legalizing marijuana in a very close vote, has a moratorium until July 2018.
The other battle at the State House involves how much marijuana should be taxed. It could be anywhere from 12-28 percent, towns that sell it could tack on another 5 percent, It's unclear at this point if towns who opt out, will also lose out on all marijuana tax dollars from the state.
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