The residents of Milford have voted to add their town to the growing list of Massachusetts municipalities that have banned recreational marijuana businesses from their area. The referendum passed on Tuesday with support from 56.3 percent of the voters. Before the ban becomes official, a Town Meeting vote must also be held to create the zoning bylaws that will officially prohibit canna-businesses.
Milford residents who voted for prohibition were concerned with “protecting the health of their children; keeping Milford a safe community to live in; and protecting Milford’s image,” according to Donna Niro, chairwoman of Milford CARES, a group that campaigned in favor of the ban. “Some of us are multiple generation residents ...We really want to preserve (the town’s) image and the reputation it holds.”
Last November, 51.9% of residents voted in support of legalizing cannabis in the state, which made activists hopeful that residents would also oppose prohibition. Advocacy groups like Milford Citizens for Fairness argued that allowing legal pot stores in the town would allow town officials and law enforcement to better regulate the drug.
Local medical marijuana businesses, including cultivator Sage Naturals, and testing facility ProVerde Laboratories, also advocated against the ban. These businesses expect that most of the money in the state's cannabis industry will shift to legal sales once they begin next year. Because of the ban, these businesses will be prevented from operating in the more lucrative recreational market unless they expand or move away from Milford.
“We are disappointed by the outcome of the referendum and continue to be concerned about whether it accurately reflects the will of the residents of Milford, who so strongly supported legalization of recreational marijuana in last fall’s high-turnout election,” said Bryan Cole, spokesperson of Milford Citizens for Fairness.
“The group behind this ballot did everything they could to quickly and quietly push this vote through, and the process was never fair or transparent,” Cole continued. “That is bad government and it is bad for Milford.”