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Upton Voters Ban Retail Marijuana Sales

After more than an hour-long debate and discussion during the November 13 Special Town Meeting, Upton voters supported banning marijuana retail sales in town

but allow manufacturing, laboratories, medicinal, and agriculture establishments in an overlay district off of Rt. 140. A total of 140 voters attended the meeting at Nipmuc Regional High School.

Initially, the warrant discussed two marijuana overlay districts where various establishments could be located; the West Marijuana Overlay District (MOD) near the railroad and an East MOD near the Hopedale town line off of Rt. 140. Police Chief Michael Bradley, who stated he's not in favor of marijuana establishments in the community, made a motion to remove the west overlay district near the railroad due to the number of homes located in the area and its proximity to the schools. The amendment passed by a majority vote.

During the discussion, residents brought forward other concerns. Upton resident David Brooks said he recently moved

to Upton from Washington state which legalized marijuana in 2012. He stated although there's been little impact on the day to day living in Washington, he did note concerns with enormous billboards

in town advertising marijuana as well any odor facilities may bring.

Code Enforcement officer Pat Roache resonded that Upton has a very strict

sign bylaw. And, Gene Bernat, Chair of

the Economic Development Committee noted very strong odor control laws exist

in the state, saying, "You're not allowed to produce an odor at the boundary of your property. That would be regulated by Board of Health in town."

Not all residents were concerned about the outcome of the evening's vote. Robert Pray said he's worked with pharmaceutical companies. After reading the guidelines concerning marijuana, he said they are "very, very heavily regulated by the state. Personally, I don't care which way we go; one way or the other. It doesn't matter to me. I just want to reassure people it isn't going to be a huge change to the town."

Eventually, residents voted to ban retail establishments in town but permit the other uses in the East Marijuana Overlay District. Because 52 percent of Upton residents supported the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, the retail ban must also be passed through a ballot question.


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