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.