Voters to Decide If EG Will Allow Pot Shop

by | Oct 30, 2022

The Nov. 8 election has eight candidates vying for Town Council, eight vying for School Committee and three contested General Assembly races. And there are a number of state ballot questions (HERE) but there is one East Greenwich ballot question. 

LICENSES FOR LOCAL RECREATIONAL CANNABIS RELATED BUSINESSES (Adopted by the Town Council June 13, 2022) Shall new cannabis related licenses for businesses involved in the cultivation, manufacture, laboratory testing and for the retail sale of adult recreational use cannabis be issued in the Town of East Greenwich?

The state approved the sale of recreational marijuana last spring. Initially there will be 24 pot shops. With 39 cities and towns in the state, it’s not clear East Greenwich would even get one, but as outlined in the law, only those communities that specifically vote against having cannabis stores can exclude them. 

In June, the East Greenwich Town Council decided residents should make that decision. 

“It is enough of an unsettled issue so we felt it was reasonable to take advantage of this referendum option,” Council President Mark Schwager said in June. 

At least one Town Council member, Mike Donegan, said – at the meeting last Wednesday – that he is voting against allowing a pot store in town. 

A no vote would cost the town some amount of money. 

The legislation calls for a 20 percent tax rate, split up into the 7 percent sales tax, a new 10 percent cannabis tax, and a 3 percent tax by the municipality where the marijuana is sold. The town will benefit with or without a shop from the state sales tax revenue. But municipalities that allow pot shops will be eligible for part of the 10 percent cannabis tax and if there is a shop in their city or town, the 3 percent local tax. 

For the town’s longtime drug and youth counselor Bob Houghtaling, the juice is just not worth the squeeze. 

“We’ve got a culture that’s minimizing marijuana, thinking it’s the same marijuana that people smoked 20 years ago,” he said over the weekend. “Especially in the middle of a mental health crisis, to have people minimizing marijuana’s potency, that’s something I worry about.”

One way or the other, legalize marijuana sales are coming to Rhode Island. East Greenwich voters get to decide if people should be able to buy it here. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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Joe G
Joe G
October 31, 2022 3:04 pm

I don’t think the arguments against really stack up here. No one who wants to legally acquire cannabis will find any difficulty acquiring it. If we vote yes there won’t be pot shops everywhere, there may be nothing new in EG. But the increase in tax revenue will be significant. We’ve seen from other states that have legalized that the taxes from cannabis have even generated surpluses that result in tax refunds in some cases.

October 31, 2022 4:07 pm

Not having a shop in EG does not address any of the concerns raised above. We might as well collect the tax money and put it towards good use in the schools.

Stephen Digianfilippo
Stephen Digianfilippo
October 31, 2022 4:14 pm

I am pleased the Town Council had the wisdom to give us a say on this important matter and strongly urge a vote of “no”.

Society can sugarcoat the use of marijuana all its wants, but it cannot change the dangerous facts. For example, since legalization, the number of traffic-related deaths in Colorado involving marijuana increased 138% (as of 2020). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 30% people who use marijuana develop some form of marijuana use disorder, including addiction. and children who use marijuana are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop such a disorder than those who begin using as adults.

These types of facts are available on-line in 5 minutes and should lead a majority of voters to squash this out of the gate.

Joe g
Joe g
October 31, 2022 7:23 pm

This isn’t a vote on wherever cannabis is legal, it already is. It’s a vote on whether East Greenwich should take some benefit in the taxes collected from the sale of cannabis. Also, this reeks of reefer madness. I just read that study you referred to, and you’ve left out half the details.
-When tested for marijuana, the number of drivers who tested positive (meaning having used in the last ~30 days, it does not mean currently impaired) after a deadly accident increased 138%. This makes sense when you test people for a substance before and after it’s legal.
-Regardless of the truth behind the youth stats, the same study you linked showed teen cannabis fell 29% since it became legal. This makes sense because legal sources won’t sell to those under 21, and drug dealers will sell to anyone. Legalizing pulls dealers of the streets.

Don’t think about this question as whether cannabis should be legal, because it isn’t about that. The question is should EG get access to an source of revenue. And you would be crazy to vote no.

Lorraine Martin
Lorraine Martin
November 4, 2022 2:46 pm
Reply to  Joe g

A vote of yes is approving the issuance of a license to open a recreational mj shop in EG to whoever applied for the license. No thank you. The juice is not worth the squeeze is right. We are a family community and do not need EG to go down this path for revenue.

November 8, 2022 11:45 am

Yet most of EGs revenue comes from hospitality. Just read the weekly police logs and see how many DUIs the town accumulates. This family community turns a blind eye to the drunken zombies that stumble through Main Street nightly, but hold tight to the revenue it creates. Seems hypocritical to me

November 1, 2022 9:37 am

If you were really worried about the negative impacts of a drug that causes traffic deaths and has dependency potential, you would be much better served to spend your efforts trying to outlaw alcohol. You’re just spouting “reefer madness” here.

stephen digianfilippo
stephen digianfilippo
November 3, 2022 4:55 pm
Reply to  JS

Concerning the “reefer madness” being spouted above by certain anonymous writers:

First, although “reefer” is legal in the state, I feel the town will be better off without its own pot shop, as that will make it at least a little more difficult for children in EG (especially those who are under 16 and might be inclined to rely upon a conduit pot buyer) to obtain marijuana.

Second, although alcohol does present serious driving dangers, alcohol already is ingrained deeply into our society. So, while I wish we could reduce traffic deaths associated with alcohol, the difficulties of doing so are no justification to support the introduction of another substance (pot) which causes impairment and may lead to further traffic deaths. If the presence of alcohol-related traffic deaths somehow justifies an increase in “reefer” related deaths, why stop at legalizing pot?

Our elected state-level officials were stupid enough to legalize marijuana, and I suspect many of them did so for personal financial gain. And while we in East Greenwich cannot unilaterally change state law, we at least can keep pot from being legally sold in our own backyard.

Lorraine Martin
Lorraine Martin
November 4, 2022 2:42 pm

Stephen I completely agree with you. As a pediatric nurse at Hasbro and a EG mom to a 10 year old daughter, I do not want to see pot shops in EG. The juice is definitely not worth the squeeze.

Lisa Holley
November 4, 2022 3:48 pm
Reply to  JS

That is incorrect. It does not mean there will be a licensed cannabis shop in town at all. The state is issuing24 licenses across the state in 6 zones. EG may never get an applicant due to a multitude of reasons. As a cannabis attorney, I can tell you EG would not be a very lucrative town for retail cannabis.

November 3, 2022 10:50 pm

A 2017 study found that drivers under the influence of alcohol are 17.8 times more likely to be responsible for fatal crashes than sober drivers. Drivers under the influence of marijuana were only 1.7 times more likely to cause a fatal crash than sober drivers. A similar study found the rate to be 1.8 times for marijuana. So, because a lot of people love their booze, we are willing to accept the consequences of their actions even though they are ~10 times more likely to cause fatal harm than users of marijuana.

The fact is, pot is waaaaayyyy less harmful than booze – in terms of addiction potential, motor vehicle accidents, violent behavior, negative outcomes on individuals and families, the list goes on. But booze is ingrained in society, so…let’s ignore the really dangerous drug, and focus on a much less harmful alternative because, what? People who use pot are dirty hippies? Okay, and get off my lawn while you’re at it!

November 4, 2022 11:42 am

I don’t use marijuana but absolutely think it should be legalized and utilized to the best of its ability. There are so many uses for this amazing plant…it’s literally a plant! We can make clothes, food, medicine, etc. Big Pharma doesn’t want Americans to discover this cheap alternative to medications, G_d forbid they lose a buck and the people actually get better! I don’t care if a Pot shop goes up in Town but I would like it to be in a special zone, not next to residential areas or schools that’s all. Cheers!

November 9, 2022 1:10 pm

All bordering towns have approved retail cannabis sales, so now these towns may get new roads, and better school programs, and all that comes with this change. With this, possibly better guidance programs in schools about recreational use of addictive substances, what a thought!

EG residents may soon have access to rec marijuana within a 10-minute drive in any direction but cannot receive the benefits of its tax revenue for the town.

November 12, 2022 5:49 pm

Are we positive that “the town will benefit with or without a shop from the state sales tax revenue”?

The law states: “Any city or town that by referendum declines to allow the issuance of new licenses relating to the sale of recreational marijuana will not be eligible to receive revenue pursuant to §21-28.11-13.”

21-28.11-13 is the entire section on Taxes.

Joe G
Joe G
November 14, 2022 6:17 am
Reply to  JP

The town only would’ve benefited if we allowed sales. The tax is 10% marijuana tax, 7% sales tax and a 3% tax for the local municipality where it was sold.
With or without a shop, any town that voted to potentially have one gets access to that 10%. The 3% is just for the town it’s sold in. And 7% for the state.


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