Recreational marijuana question going to the ballot in Newton
Two years after Newton voted to allow recreational marijuana establishments in the city, residents will go back to the polls this November to decide whether to limit the number of shops.
As the state continues to review applications for recreational marijuana shops, Newton has taken a step to provide additional oversight in the city.
Two potential ballot questions were before the council on July 9, as residents on both sides of the issue packed the City Council quarters.
There were numerous paths the council could take. They could put a question on the banning recreational marijuana shops in Newton, put a question on the ballot limiting the amount of shops in the city to no fewer than two and no more than four, put both on the ballot or neither.
After spirited debate on both sides, the City Council shot down an outright ban and sent the question limiting the amount of shops to the ballot.
“Its too low a bar to have 50 or 60 people come to us with a petition. For me it is about the process,” Councilor Alison Leary said, speaking about the citizens’ petition to “opt out” of recreational marijuana shops.
The citizen petition aimed to ban recreational marijuana shops in Newton, unless they were licensed before July 1, 2017.
According to state law, Newton is eligible for eight recreational marijuana licenses, 20 percent of the city’s liquor license cap. In order to reduce the number of licenses to any number under eight, the city would need to vote on a ballot question.
Despite being voted down by the City Council by a vote of 13 opposed and eight in favor, the citizens’ petition can still appear on the ballot. According to Acting City Solicitor Ouida Young, if residents get 6,000 signatures, the City Council