PITTSTON — By a vote of 33-7, Pittston residents voted for an outright ban on marijuana-related businesses such as retail shops or social clubs.

While an online town poll indicated that those who took it were fairly evenly split, no one spoke against the prohibition at Wednesday’s special town meeting.

“It’s important to jump on the bandwagon,” resident Andrea Sparrow said after the meeting ended. Sparrow has lived in Pittston for about 30 years, and among her friends there are no supporters of marijuana-related businesses.

“It’s uncharted territory,” Sparrow said.

Greg Lumbert, who is completing his first year as a selectman, said he is pleased with the result, and he’s not surprised. At an earlier public hearing, a number of people had opposed having marijuana-related businesses in town,

“It’s a done deal,” Lumbert said.

Because the voters opted for the ban, there was no need to vote on the proposed moratorium, which also appeared on the special town meeting warrant.

The vote was by secret ballot,

In speaking for the ban, Tim Lawrence said maybe not allowing these businesses would be the best thing to do.

“I am not against business, and it’s not that I don’t have an open mind,” he said, but added that the marijuana law is 30 pages long and voters might have seriously underestimated what regulating such businesses would require.

The special town meeting was rescheduled in January after a public hearing on a temporary ban showed a number of town residents appeared to want a permanent ban.

On Election Day, more Pittston voters weighed in against legalization than supported it. The final tally was 778 for and 917 against. Statewide, Question 1 was passed by a narrow margin and a recount challenging the result in December was abandoned.

Even as Pittston voters were deciding what they want for their town, the state has been working out its own role. In January, state lawmakers put in place a moratorium of their own. Just days before possessing and growing limited amounts of pot became in legal, the Legislature enacted a three-month extension to the nine months spelled out in Question 1 for the state to develop rules to license commercial marijuana enterprises, such as social clubs, retail shops and cultivation operations.

While the law legalizes marijuana statewide, it allows cities and towns to restrict or ban commercial enterprises.

Many communities in the region are opting for a temporary ban. Gardiner has formed a task force to make a recommendation to the Gardiner City Council on allowing commercial businesses by early May. In Richmond, the town put in place a temporary ban at a special town meeting in January. Following the state’s decision to extend the time allowed to draft regulations on licensing, Mark Roberts, chairman of the Randolph Board of Selectmen, said the board has gained some time to figure out its approach.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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