Newton Voters Reject Measures to Ban or Limit Marijuana Shops

Voters in Newton, Massachusetts, rejected two ballot questions Tuesday night that would have banned or limited recreational marijuana shops in the city, paving the way for new and existing marijuana retailers to expand their business in the community.

"We are extremely excited. It's a big day for us here," said Jeff Herold, chief operations officer at Garden Remedies.

Under the law, Newton will be required to allow at least eight recreational shops to open, which is equivalent to 20 percent of the city's liquor licenses. While Herold's shop is eager to take advantage of the new rules, it is unclear how many other businesses may seek to move into the area.

"I highly doubt there will be eight. They'll be the most secure stores in all of Newton. It's harder to get into than any bar or liquor store," said Tom Ahern, a campaign strategist who helped oppose the ballot measures.

Currently, city leaders are trying to determine what areas of the community are the best fits for any new retailers, something those who wanted the ban are not eager to see.

"We are concerned. We are concerned about the community," said Newton resident, Karen Sherman.

For several weeks, Sherman and others had been urging voters to opt out of the state law that allows for recreational marijuana shops. Given that so many other cities and towns have chosen to enact such bans, Sherman now fears more shops will be inclined to move to Newton.

"We are not fearmongers. We are not Prohibitionists," Sherman said. "We are just concerned about introducing another substance into our community that, in some sense, when you commercialize it, normalizes a substance."

It could be several months before Newton businesses are given the approval to begin selling recreational pot. Herold expects their shop will start in 2019.

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