Residents to Vote on Banning Recreational Marijuana Businesses in Charlton

A Massachusetts community is moving forward to ban recreational marijuana businesses after taking a vote Wednesday night.

"I think we’re in uncharted territory a bit,” said Charlton town administrator Robin Craver.

Residents will get to vote on the November ballot whether to ban recreational marijuana businesses thanks to a general bylaw petition passed at a special town meeting. A vote to rescind the town’s marijuana zoning bylaw failed.

Town administrator Robin Craver said if the ballot measure passes, the two bylaws would conflict and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office would likely get involved.

"The AG may come back and say, 'you need to do a zoning bylaw to effectuate this whole piece because you have a bylaw that regulates already, plus you have businesses already here,'" Craver said.

One of those businesses, Valley Green Grow of North Andover, plans to build an 800,000 to 1.5 million square foot greenhouse for cannabis research, as well as medical and recreational cultivation, on the site of Charlton Orchards.

"No matter what we do to appease the opposition, they won’t fight fair," said Charlton Orchards Owner Nathan Benjamin.

He added there has been a campaign of misinformation spread throughout town about the planned facility.

Some neighbors had a mixed reaction to it.

"My land abuts theirs, and I don’t know if it’s going to look like a spaceship landed up there at night with all the lights," neighbor Lee Morgan said.

Valerie Haley whose property also abuts Charlton Orchards is for the facility.

"I think it’s great, I think it’s wonderful, but I don’t think it needs to be so big," Haley said.

Craver says both facilities are grandfathered in where zoning is concerned, so even if the ballot measure banning recreational marijuana passes and the AG’s office has the town amend the zoning, the facilities can still operate.

"Both of them could just choose to do medical marijuana and not do the recreational," Craver said.

Michael Rosen, attorney for Valley Green Grow released a statement saying:

"If this passes, it would only be applicable to future projects. Because we already have a signed agreement with the community, we believe that agreement is binding."

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